Coronavirus: GP practice closes surgery and follows up appointments by phone
PUBLISHED: 07:38 13 March 2020 | UPDATED: 20:39 13 March 2020
A GP practice has closed one of its surgeries and is following up appointment bookings over the phone to see if it is necessary for patients to attend in person as part of its response to coronavirus.
Long Stratton Medical Partnership said it has closed its branch surgery at Newton Flotman as a temporary measure.
A 'lock-down period' from noon and 3pm each day has also been introduced so that chronic on the day respiratory patients can be seen, 'limiting the risk to others'.
A spokesman for the Norfolk and Waveney NHS Clinical Commissioning Groups said: 'As the Chief Medical Officer has said, routine non-urgent services in the NHS could well come under pressure as a result of the coronavirus, and so GPs are preparing a number of practical solutions to effectively respond this outbreak.
'As part of these robust plans and as a precaution to protect patients, staff and the public, appointments may be followed up with a call by the surgery, to make sure patients see the right person in the right place for their illness.'
Appointments normally held at Newton Flotman are now taking place at the Long Stratton surgery in Swan Lane, which remains open, to make the best use of staff resources whilst the workload remains busy.
'This is a temporary and precautionary measure,' the spokesman added.
MORE: GP cancels appointments while nearby town is deserted
The action is part of measures being introduced by medical practices across Norfolk.
Eight people have so far died from the disease in the UK and there are said to be 32 cases in the East of England - although none in Norfolk.
Watlington Medical Centre, near King's Lynn, said patients with appointments already booked could be dealt with over the phone.
In a statement, it said: 'If you do visit the surgery, please do not be alarmed if the clinician that you are seeing is wearing a mask or taking other precautions.'
The health centre's website adds those who believe they may be suffering the virus should not visit the surgery, on Rowan Close, which serves 6,000 patients.
'This is for the protection of our most vulnerable patients,' it goes on. 'We do not have any way of testing for the virus and it could lead to the entire surgery having to close.
MORE: Protective clothing and magazine ban among GP surgery's measures to stop coronavirus spread
St James Medical Practice in King's Lynn has also suspended its appointment system for future bookings and is assessing patients over the phone to ensure they are 'able to look after our patients in the safest possible way'.
It warned patients: 'If you have an appointment already booked you may receive notification of cancellation if your need is not urgent.'
Patients at the Cromer Group Practice in north Norfolk have been told not to attend the surgery unless they have a medical emergency, a confirmed appointment, have medication to collect or have been asked to drop off a sample.
In a patient message it stated: 'If you have an appointment booked but develop symptoms please do not attend your appointment but ring reception for further advice. Accompanying persons should wait in their personal car.'
Lawns Medical Practice in Diss has told people with cold symptoms like runny noses, coughs, aching limbs, as well as flare-ups of asthma or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, not to attend its surgery.
East Norfolk Medical Practice in Great Yarmouth has also suspended all online appointment booking until further notice.
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