Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
26th March 2020 (updated 15.6.2020)
What are the symptoms of Coronavirus?
Stay at home if you have coronavirus symptoms which are either:
- A high temperature – this means you feel hot to touch on your chest or back (you do not need to measure your temperature)
- A new, continuous cough – this means coughing a lot for more than an hour, or three or more coughing episodes in 24 hours (if you usually have a cough, it may be worse than usual).
- A loss of taste or smell
If you do not have symptoms you should also be following the new stay at home guidance: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/full-guidance-on-staying-at-home-and-away-from-others/full-guidance-on-staying-at-home-and-away-from-others
This is a vital campaign update from the government about Coronavirus. The main message is ‘Stay home. Protect the NHS. Save lives.’
Anyone can spread Coronavirus. The only reasons to leave home are:
- To shop for basic necessities or pick up medicine
- To travel to work when you absolutely cannot work from home
- To exercise once a day, alone or with members of your household.
- Do not meet others, even friends or family
What do I do if I have symptoms?
Do not go to a GP Surgery, Pharmacy or Hospital. In the first instance use the NHS111 Coronavirus advice service online – https://111.nhs.uk/covid-19 Only telephone 111 if you cannot get help online.
If you have symptoms of coronavirus you will need to stay at home for 7 days.
If you live with someone who has symptoms, you will need to stay at home for 14 days from the day the first person in the home started having symptoms.
If you live with someone who is 70 or over, has a long-term condition, is pregnant or has a weakened immune system, try to find somewhere else for them to stay for 14 days. If you do have to stay at home together, try to keep away from each other as much as possible. Read the advice about staying at home by following the link – https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/self-isolation-advice/
In the event that your symptoms are deteriorating quickly with severe shortness of breath or any other symptoms which normally require a 999 call you must continue to use the emergency service – it is essential you mention to the 999 team that you think you might also have corona virus.
As GPs we advise that you regularly wash your hands with soap and water (please note special, expensive soaps are not needed), keep your household surfaces clean, avoid overcrowded environments and seek medical advice early on if you have clinical symptoms.
Viruses do not respond to antibiotics and hence no acute treatment to get rid of the virus is available. The main symptoms of high temperature and sometimes a headache are best treated with paracetamol within the recommended dosage on the packaging.
There is a huge amount of information available online. Some of this is useful but some information is both incorrect and causing panic and fear. As clinicians we are committed to minimising any fear that this virus causes. With this in mind we will produce updates for you as things move forward.
What can I do if I don’t have symptoms to minimise the risk?
We are advising those who are at increased risk of severe illness from coronavirus (COVID-19) to be particularly stringent in following social distancing measures. This group includes those who are:
- aged 70 or older (regardless of medical conditions)
- under 70 with an underlying health condition listed below (ie anyone instructed to get a flu jab as an adult each year on medical grounds):
- chronic (long-term) respiratory diseases, such as asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), emphysema or bronchitis
- chronic heart disease, such as heart failure
- chronic kidney disease
- chronic liver disease, such as hepatitis
- chronic neurological conditions, such as Parkinson’s disease, motor neurone disease, multiple sclerosis (MS), a learning disability or cerebral palsy
- problems with your spleen – for example, sickle cell disease or if you have had your spleen removed
- a weakened immune system as the result of conditions such as HIV and AIDS, or medicines such as steroid tablets or chemotherapy
- being seriously overweight (a body mass index (BMI) of 40 or above)
- those who are pregnant
Note: there are some clinical conditions which put people at even higher risk of severe illness from COVID-19. If you are in this category, next week the NHS in England will directly contact you with advice about the more stringent measures you should take in order to keep yourself and others safe. For now, you should rigorously follow the social distancing advice in full, outlined below.
People falling into this group are those who may be at particular risk due to complex health problems such as:
- people who have received an organ transplant and remain on ongoing immunosuppression medication
- people with cancer who are undergoing active chemotherapy or radiotherapy
- people with cancers of the blood or bone marrow such as leukaemia who are at any stage of treatment
- people with severe chest conditions such as cystic fibrosis or severe asthma (requiring hospital admissions or courses of steroid tablets)
- people with severe diseases of body systems, such as severe kidney disease (dialysis)
This process is under constant review and other risk groups may be added at a later date.
When will I receive my At Risk Letter?
As advertised in the media, patients who are acknowledged to be in designated At Risk groups will be receiving a letter indicating their need to self-isolate for 12 weeks. We are having a considerable amount of calls asking when a letter will be received. These letters will not be sent from the Practice but we understand you should receive it by the 29th March. If you do not receive a letter but feel you should have you can fill in an online form which will then be reviewed by a clinician: https://www.gov.uk/coronavirus-extremely-vulnerable
Update 26.05.2020 – all eligible patients should have now received their shielding letter.
What is Social Distancing?
This is a changing situation and it is best to look on the Gov website for info but general rules are:
- Avoid contact with someone who is displaying symptoms of coronavirus (COVID-19). These symptoms include high temperature and/or new and continuous cough
- Avoid non-essential use of public transport when possible
- Work from home, where possible. Your employer should support you to do this. Please refer to employer guidance for more information
- Avoid large and small gatherings in public spaces, noting that pubs, restaurants, leisure centres and similar venues are currently shut as infections spread easily in closed spaces where people gather together.
- Avoid aby gatherings with friends and family. Keep in touch using remote technology such as phone, internet, and social media
- Use telephone or online services to contact your GP or other essential services
- Everyone should be trying to follow these measures as much as is practicable.
We strongly advise you to follow the above measures as much as you can and to significantly limit your face-to-face interaction with friends and family if possible, particularly if you:
- are over 70
- have an underlying health condition
- are pregnant
This advice is likely to be in place for some weeks.
Is the Practice Still Open?
Yes the Practice is still open but access is strictly limited to avoid large numbers of patients being in the building at any one time. Please note that the on-line booking system for appointments has been suspended during the current emergency.
We are running on reduced staffing due to staff isolation and distancing, however, we have now moved to telephone assessment appointments first rather than you coming into the surgery in the first instance.
The reason for us not seeing you straightaway isn’t because we don’t want to provide you with clinical care but rather to ensure we limit the spread of the virus; All NHS services uses the coordinated process of managing all corona virus suspected patients in the same way across the country to ensure we protect our clinical team as much as possible so that we remain able to work and provide care. If you feel that your problem is urgent and you need to be seen, please call the surgery as you normally would, but be aware that you will probably need to be called back later by one of our clinicians and should make yourself available to received this call.
Please be aware that when clinicians return your telephone call it is unlikely to show the practice number and therefore you should answer the call. Most calls will say either ‘hidden number’ or ‘with-held number’ but we have had some calls going out via random numbers including other companies, there is nothing our phone provider can do to resolve this at the moment. Our clinicians are experiencing a lot of patients not being available or answering a telephone call when these are returned. Please make sure we have your up-to-date phone number.
We will be starting to use online consultations in early April, we will update this page when this is launched.
Attending the Practice IMPORTANT UPDATE 15.6.2020
Effective from the 15th June, the governments guidance is that all patients entering a hospital environment should wear a face covering. We have been advised to follow the same policy and would therefore ask that all patients attending the practice wear a face covering, unless they meet the exclusion criteria.
Can I still telephone the Practice?
As you can imagine we are dealing with an inordinate amount of telephone calls which means there may well be a wait for your call to be answered. Please be prepared for this, calls are taken in strict order.
We understand that these are difficult and worrying times. We have been saddened and dismayed by some verbal abuse our Reception and Medication Teams have experienced on the phone and in person this week from a small number of patients. It is unacceptable and will not be tolerated.
We are genuinely sorry if you are inconvenienced by having to wait a bit longer on the phone than you usually would or if you have to queue a few minutes to collect your medication.
What are you classing as non-urgent routine consultations?
The Practice has made a decision not to undertake any non-urgent work as the clinicians try to deal with patients affected by the outbreak and those patients requiring urgent assistance that is not virus related. Non-urgent work includes:
- Routine blood tests (if you need to have regular blood tests to monitor your medication please continue to book your appointments as normal)
- Routine Health Checks – Update 26.5.2020, we have now started to see patients who are overdue a check and those in higher risk groups.
- Coil checks or changes
- Ring pessaries unless you are experiencing problems
- Minor Surgery, this includes joint injections
- Travel vaccinations
- Insurance Reports
- DVLA/HGV Medical Examinations
- Non-urgent paperwork
Can I still order my medications from the surgery?
You can ring to order your prescription or use SystmOnline if you have an account. We would ask that you do not attend the practice in person. If you want to sign up for SystmOnline please complete the form from our website: https://www.scarboroughcentralgp.nhs.uk/services/online-services/ Please return it by post or email it to: firstname.lastname@example.org
You must include a clear copy of your ID as listed on the form. During the Covid-19 pandemic we are removing the requirement to bring your ID to the practice in person.
Can I have extra medications as I am self-isolating or just in case I get sick?
Please do not ask for medications that you have not taken for many years or extended periods of medication outside of the current 28 days that we provide on a repeat prescription basis. Please do not repeatedly ring to try to talk to a different doctor just in case you may get a different answer. All our doctors are in agreement with regard to how medication is provided and the decision will be the same. This simply takes an appointment away from another patient who may require urgent assistance. Stockpiling, just in case, will be detrimental to the provision of all medications at a time when we need to ensure patients receive their medications as they need them.
What we can do is send more than one months prescription to the chemist so that it will automatically be ready for you the next month. You won’t be able to collect the next month until it is due but it will save you having to contact us and then wait whilst we process it.
Please note that a number of chemists are currently working on a 5 day around, please contact them before you go to ensure your medication is ready.
Should I stop taking my anti-inflammatory medications?
We are aware that concerns have been raised in France about the use of anti-inflammatory medications (NSAIDs). Some of these such as Ibuprofen and Aspirin are available over the counter. Others such as Naproxen, Diclofenac, Indometacin, Mefenamic Acid, Meloxicam, Ketoprofen and Calecoxib etc require a prescription. There appears to be no evidence that NSAIDs increase the chance of acquiring coronavirus but concerns have been raised that taking them whilst you have a coronavirus infection may increase the complications or slow the recovery. The Government has asked the National Institute for Care and Health Excellence and part of the Medicines and Healthcare Regulatory Agency to review the evidence. In the interim, patients who have confirmed coronavirus or believe they have coronavirus should use Paracetamol in preference to an NSAID.
There are shortages in the supermarkets so can I order my Paracetamol from the Practice?
The demand for Paracetamol on prescription has also increased since the outbreak of Coronavirus. Paracetamol is available over the counter. If you have not been prescribed Paracetamol by the Practice for pain or other reason recently then your clinical need will need to be reviewed and a decision made on this basis.
I’ve seen on social media that there is an Asthma Rescue Pack available. Can I have one?
We are aware of social media posts circulating that asthmatics (and even those that aren’t), will be issued with Rescue Packs of Amoxicillin and steroids if you call the Practice. This suggestion is incorrect and the decision to use rescue packs is only made after careful evaluation for people with severe (brittle) asthma or severe COPD who are under follow up by a Specialist Respiratory Team. Oral steroids are powerful systemic drugs that can have an immunosuppressant effect (thus potentially increasing the severity of an infection and the risk of you passing the infection on to other people) and thus the decision to use them would rarely be delegated to a patient without careful evaluation.
Please do not contact us asking for rescue packs unless this is something that has previously been agreed with your medical team and careful instruction how to use and when has been provided. That would normally still involve discussion with the medical team where possible before starting. As you can see, Asthma UK do not recommend use of rescue packs as a blanket policy for people with Asthma during the pandemic.
Can I pick up my Prescriptions from the Practice?
There are a small number of prescriptions which cannot be sent electronically, if your chemist is not collecting from the practice you will need to. You must pre-arrange this and all paper scripts are located at our Lawrence House site. Please do not just attend as you may be turned away, we are strictly limiting the number of patient’s onsite at any one time.
Can you provide me with a sick note for my employer?
We can understand that patients may require sick notes but when dealing with sick patients and reduced staffing levels this will not be a priority. Patients can self-certify under current regulations for seven days, you can then use the NHS 111 service to request an isolation note: https://111.nhs.uk/isolation-note/
If you have a sick note for reasons other than Covid-19 this will be sent to you via text, patients without a mobile phone will have their note posted to them. Do not attend the practice asking for a paper sick note.
Can I come in and pick up my correspondence from the Doctor?
We would prefer it if you didn’t and therefore have taken the decision to post out correspondence to patients during this time.
Can you provide me with a letter for my insurers to cancel my travel arrangements?
Unfortunately no insurers and travel companies should be basing their decisions to offer refunds on advice from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and Public Health England, not letters from GPs. It is not a good use of GPs’ time to be writing letters for patients who are not ill but have plans to travel – and GPs will always base their decisions on official advice. Patients will undoubtedly have good and sensible reasons for not wanting to travel to certain places because of the virus, but this is not the same as being unable to travel due to existing illness, and it should not become the GP’s responsibility to give patients advice about where not to travel.
Thank you to all our staff and patients/family members and carers for your amazing support during this challenging time. We have been touched by some very kind acts and words from our community and we really do appreciate your continued patience.