A GP has been forced to transfer his surgery to a nearby pub hotel room after his practice became flooded
Dr John Pittard had to close his Chertsey Lane practice in Staines by the Thames when the car park flooded and drains stopped working. However, the local pub, The Swan Hotel, allowed him to run his surgery out of one of their rooms.
Dr Pittard told Pulse he was holding surgeries everyday from a bedroom suite, with patients waiting to be seen in the coffee lounge downstairs.
Other GPs at the practice have been given space to see their patients at two local surgeries, although access to these is also limited due to flood water.
Dr Pittard said he and colleagues were seeing about 30% of patients, with the help of practice staff transferring information through fax or smartphone, while some patients who have been evacuated further away are being managed over the telephone.
Patients are being treated for usual complaints including chest infections and many have been experiencing stress from dealing with the floods, but as yet Dr Pittard said had not seen anyone with gastrointestinal upsets.
He said: ‘Some patients are clearly very distressed about having to move out at 12 hours notice – and being told insurance and drying out will take up to six months.
‘I haven’t seen any gut infections but we sent some water samples off for analysis and there is very high coliform count in this water – it’s not just river water, it’s mixed up with drainwater and sewage – so that is a concern.’
‘Our practice staff – Margeurite Humphry and Jan Hyatt have been heroic – they’ve come in every day, done more hours than normal and invented systems as they’ve gone along.’
GPs in the worst-hit area of the Somerset levels have been alerting the local NHS England area team to vulnerable patients who made need to be evacuated and providing medical cover at relief centres.
Dr Nick Bray’s North Petherton surgery serves the most badly affected villages Moorland, Fordgate and Burrowbridge.
He told Pulse the impact had been devastating for patients and while there had been no serious health problems as yet he fears the psychological impact could last for years for some patients.
He said: ‘We’re not going to have to travel into flooded areas as people aren’t living there anymore, it is mostly going to be picking up the psychological pieces over the weeks and months and probably years –because there is a strong possibility some people will never get back into their homes.’
Dr Bray said the LMC was not aware of any practice premises being affected in Somerset, although one surgery in Burnham-on-Sea had taken precautions against potential flooding from high tides.