How is your Milton Keynes GP surgery faring during the coronavirus crisis?

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The new telephone consultation arrangements for MK are proving effective for GPs and patients, said experts this week.

GPs surgeries in Milton Keynes have had to transform the way they work in three weeks to try to limit the spread of coronavirus.

Last year more than local patients 1,281,000 had a face to face consultation with their doctor in MK and less than 1 per cent of appointments were carried out using video-link.

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But the Royal College of GPs (RCGP) says that has been turned on its head following lockdown.

GPs have had to drastically change the way they workGPs have had to drastically change the way they work
GPs have had to drastically change the way they work

Face-to-face contact with a GP is now making up 7 per cent of all contact as surgeries have been forced to respond to the crisis.

Professor Martin Marshall, chairman of RCGP, said around 40 per cent of patients would normally be triaged before booking an appointment.

Now all patients are initially assessed on the phone before booking either a call or video link with a doctor.

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"Most of the consultations are taking place on the telephone rather than video link," he said.

"People are pretty happy with doing assessments over the phone and they are proving effective. Who would have thought this 150-year-old technology would still be just as useful today?"

He said there were occasions where a video appointment was beneficial, particularly in the case of assessing skin rashes.

But with people able to email in pictures of the affected area, he said phone calls have been used in around 90 per cent of cases.

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In 2019, two thirds of all regional NHS commissioning areas carried out no video call appointments, NHS data shows.

"The big question is which elements do we want to embed in our practices in the future?" Prof Marshall said.

"I don't see us doing all of our consultations over the phone or online, but certainly up to 50% is possible."

There are still occasions where patients need to attend a practice in person, such as where blood pressures or oxygen saturation needs to be read, he said.

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Regional NHS areas are establishing "hot and cold" practices to mitigate the risk of infection.

Hot practices assess people with clear Covid-19 symptoms only.

Concerns have been raised that people who may not have access to smartphones or a computer, will be excluded from seeing their GP during the crisis.

Elderly needs charity Age UK has urged practices to be "proactive" in contacting people on their registers known to have underlying health conditions.

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Senior health influencing manager at the charity, Tom Gentry said: "Surgeries have a lot of information at their disposal. Using that, they need to make active care plans for people to enable them to feel supported.

"It's about not waiting for people to deteriorate and it's about reaching out to them first."

Mr Gentry said that surgeries should also not discount the use of home visits, providing adequate precautions are taken.

"No one should be told outright that they should not be visited in their own home," he said.

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