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24/2/21

We are now working to the latest government target, for everyone aged 50 and over to be offered the COVID-19 vaccine by the end of April. The vaccine is safe and very effective, and the eventual aim is for all adults to receive two doses of the vaccine by the end of the summer.

Groups 1-4

Everyone aged 70 and above, and those are shielding due to extreme clinical vulnerability have been offered their first COVID-19 vaccination. If you have not yet responded please book an appointment now  - contact the NHS booking line 119, book online here or telephone the Health Centre.

Group 5

To enable practices to focus on the vaccination of patients aged 16-64 who are clinically vulnerable (and to make best use of local vaccination service capacity) we are requesting that patients over 65 use the National Booking Service to book a COVID-19 vaccination. In order to avoid a delay please book your vaccination now via www.nhs.uk/covidvaccination or by calling 119. Appointments are available this weekend.

Group 6

People in group 6 (those aged 16-64 with underlying health conditions that makes them more vulnerable to COVID-19 infection) are being invited by their GP to attend their local Primary Care Centre vaccination centre for an appointment.

Text messages have been sent to all patients in this group for whom we have mobile numbers - all available appointments for the first two clinics at Congleton Town Hall, on Friday 26th February and Saturday 27th February, were booked within 50 minutes of delivery! More clinic dates will be announced when we have further guaranteed deliveries of vaccine.

If we do not have a mobile number for you we will contact you by phone or letter, but this process is inevitably slower and time consuming for staff. Texting is the preferred method of choice - please contact the Health Centre if we do not have your mobile number or if you have previously opted out of receiving text messages.  Booking details are contained in the text message, and will be explained in phone calls or letters to patients. 

Link to latest COVID-19 update


Asthma patients under control will not be prioritised for the COVID-19 vaccine - appointments cancelled 

Last week the government announced that all asthma patients regularly using a steroid-inhaler were eligible for a COVID-19 vaccination. Following a search of our computerised medical records we were able to send a text messages to these patients offering the vaccine, and many have already booked an appointment for a vaccination.

The government has now updated their guidance to make it clear that only patients with severe asthma are eligible for vaccination at this time, ahead of their peers. The confusion has arisen because the effect of COVID-19 infection in people with asthma has been reviewed. People with non-severe asthma are considered by the NHS to be at increased risk from COVID-19, but there is no evidence they are at greater risk of dying from the virus. The government’s stated priority is to "prevent deaths and protect health and care staff, with old age deemed the single biggest factor determining mortality” and therefore provide vaccines to the most vulnerable. 

People considered to have severe asthma are those who are formally shielding and those taking steroid tablets continuously or requiring repeated courses to control their symptoms. It also includes patients who have previously had an emergency hospital admission for treatment of an exacerbation of their asthma - this has caused confusion as it does not include a time scale, unlike the previously accepted definition of severe asthma, i.e. those who have required acute hospital treatment during the last 12 months, and as a result many patients whose asthma has been well controlled for many years find themselves defined as severe and eligible for the vaccine. All other patients with asthma that is under control are not eligible at this time and we have had to contact them again advising them their vaccination appointment has been cancelled.

We apologise for this change, which is outside our control, and we appreciate patients' disappointment. Fortunately the pace of vaccination means that no one should have to wait too long to be offered the vaccine. Patients who have had their appointment cancelled, but for one of the above reasons are eligible to receive the vaccine at this time will be re-booked, but they should not attend for their original appointment as this has been cancelled.  

Flu vaccination is highly recommended for all but the mildest asthma patients, and this is still available


Health Centre limited access 3rd and 4th March

As we reach the final stages of the Health Centre development it’s time to start work on the front of the building. To do this safely we are planning to close access via the front of the building on Wednesday 3rd March and Thursday 4th March. During these two days we will only be able to see patients with urgent medical problems but we will continue to triage as currently. All non-urgent problems will be deferred to another day.  If access the Health Centre is advised instructions will be given how to do this safely. All areas will be clearly signed.  Prescription collection from the dispensary will also be limited so unless you have run out of medication please do not collect your medication during these days. Please telephone for advice if you are uncertain whether you need to attend the Health Centre during these two days.


Second dose of vaccine

The current guidance is that the second dose should be the same type of vaccine as the first dose. Whenever possible patients should attend the same vaccination venue for both doses to ensure that the same vaccine is available and the second dose is administered at the correct time. There are some circumstances where it clearly may not be possible for the patient to attend the same site (e.g. they have moved home or, in between the first and second dose, they have moved to a new GP practice which is not part of the PCN grouping that administered the first dose.) In these circumstances, it would be appropriate for the new provider to administer the second dose.


Vaccine eligibility: Social care workers in school/early years settings (for information)

The vast majority of people working in school and early years settings are not classed as a frontline health or social care worker.

To qualify under this criterion, you need to be providing face-to-face care or support to children or adults who are clinically extremely vulnerable to Covid-19. In most cases, people who are eligible under this group should have been contacted directly by their employer and been given a letter to say they are eligible.  

If you wrongly book through the website, you will be turned away at the vaccination service so please don’t do this because it could mean someone else who is eligible misses out on an appointment. 

NHSE/I has published an SOP for social care workers which states the following are not eligible within this priority group as defined by the JCVI:

  • Administrative staff who do not have any direct contact with clients
  • Social care workers working with children who are not considered priority within the context of the JCVI priority Cohorts 1-9 (children under 16 who do not have underlying health conditions leading to greater risk of disease or mortality and children who have no underlying health conditions)
  • Unpaid carers
  • Teachers and teaching assistants

As we have seen, the situation can change, and we know there have been calls for key workers, including teaching staff, police officers and other key workers to be offered the vaccine as a high priority group. Therefore, if the situation was to change we would try to contact everyone in this group as soon as possible. This requires us have teachers and police officers' occupations recorded in their notes, together with a mobile phone number to enable us to send text messaging. 

Please note, this is not an offer of vaccination for these groups - we have no prior knowledge of any policy changes by the government. At this stage we cannot make the vaccine available to anyone outside the current most vulnerable groups 1-6, but by being pro-active at this stage we hope to be the best position to offer vaccination to key workers if they become eligible in the future. If you are a teacher, teaching assistant or police officer you may now email the practice using this feedback form including details of your occupation and mobile phone number so that we can update your records with this information. We will contact you as soon as we hear any news regarding your eligibility for the vaccine. 


Requesting a Doctor/Nurse to review an ongoing health condition

As we enter this current national lockdown the staff at the health centre are actively involved in the roll out of the COVID-19 vaccine. The government have prioritised the vaccination of everyone in the 4 most vulnerable groups within the next 6-8 weeks. This is a massive undertaking. As such we ask for your support in only contacting us for urgent clinical problems or symptoms that are concerning you. This includes symptoms that you worry may be cancer.  We are suspending routine work including medication review and routine blood tests, allowing us to prioritise the vaccine roll out, continuation of childhood vaccinations, cervical screening, and management of patients with new or worrying symptoms. We also need to limit the footfall through the practice to maintain safety for patients and staff. We will review this in line with government review of lockdown, but ask for your support and help in only contacting us when absolutely necessary.

Please would patients use either the options of a telephone call into the Practice via our main phone number of 01477 533100 or our e-consult service, which can be accessed by clicking the link to e-consult

We cannot action e-mail requests or photos, unless specifically asked to send these in by your Doctor.


Building work progress

Building work is nearing completion and we now have a functioning waiting room again. However, because COVID-19 restrictions still apply, we have to continue to restrict access to the building. If you have been asked to attend the Health Centre please contact reception using the buzzer to the left of the main door, to speak to one of our reception staff. Depending on the number of patients waiting you will asked to come into the Health Centre or wait outside until space is available. As the weather is likely to be cold and possibly wet, please ensure you wear warm clothing, protection from the rain. If you struggle to stand please inform reception staff so that they can make provision for you, but please bear in mind space is limited. Please ensure you wear some form of face covering when attending the Health Centre. If you have been advised that you may be exempt from wearing a face covering please discuss this when booking your appointment. To limit the number of patients waiting we request that you do not arrive more than 5 minutes before your appointment. Thank you for you continued understanding and support.


Dispensary Changes:

All Dispensing GP practices and Community Pharmacies are facing unprecedented demands due to the Covid-19 crisis. We are currently working at full capacity, but if you have a genuinely urgent request please let us know and we will try to deal with this as quickly as possible.

The Dispensary is now the prescription hub for the practice. All prescriptions are processed in the dispensary and may be collected from the Dispensary reception, unless you have advised they are directed to a pharmacy of your choice. 

The Dispensary is open for prescription collection between 08:30 and 13:00, and 14:00 and 18:30, Monday to Friday. We are currently closing reception 1:00 pm -2:00 pm each day.


Samples

Due to laboratory resources we will only be able to accept samples a clinician has requested, all other samples will be destroyed.

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