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Patients asked to avoid GP practices and postpone appointments

The Government has urged the public to avoid seeing their GP in person and told people to consider whether their appointments can be postponed.

In guidance on ‘social distancing’ released yesterday in response to the coronavirus (Covid-19) crisis, the Government told the public to contact their GP and ‘other essential services’ via phone or online rather than in person.

The guidance said: ‘We advise everyone to access medical assistance remotely, wherever possible.

‘However, if you have a scheduled hospital or other medical appointment during this period, talk to your GP or clinician to ensure you continue to receive the care you need and consider whether appointments can be postponed.’

In the unprecedented message from the Prime Minister yesterday, all members of the public were urged to avoid non-essential contact with others in a bid to delay the spread of Covid-19 until the NHS is prepared.

At the end of last week, NHS England advised GP practices to move to a ‘total triage’ system, with all patients assessed either by telephone or online in the first instance.

What is social distancing?

The Government has urged the public to take the following ‘social distancing’ measures to reduce the transmission of Covid-19:

  1. Avoid contact with someone who is displaying symptoms of coronavirus (COVID-19). These symptoms include high temperature and/or new and continuous cough;
  2. Avoid non-essential use of public transport, varying your travel times to avoid rush hour, when possible; 3.Work from home, where possible. Your employer should support you to do this. Please refer to employer guidance for more information;
  3. Avoid large gatherings, and gatherings in smaller public spaces such as pubs, cinemas, restaurants, theatres, bars, clubs
  4. Avoid gatherings with friends and family. Keep in touch using remote technology such as phone, internet, and social media.
  5. Use telephone or online services to contact your GP or other essential services.

The Government said ‘everyone should be trying to follow these measures as much as is pragmatic’.

Those who are over 70, have an underlying health condition or are pregnant, are strongly advised to follow the above measures ’as much as they can, and to significantly limit… face-to-face interaction with friends and family if possible’.

The Government said the advice is ‘likely to be in place for some weeks’.

Source: UK Government