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GPs are still there for their patients during the Covid-19 pandemic

Doctors in Lewisham are asking patients not to put off contacting their GP surgery if they need to consult a doctor or nurse.

Fewer patients have been consulting their doctor or nurse for their usual health concerns or new physical or mental health problems during this pandemic. This is concerning doctors, as there may be people out there who need medical advice and whose conditions may worsen.

The message is not to avoid contacting your surgery if you feel you need to. It is also  important that parents of babies and young children get in touch with their practice to arrange for their routine immunisations, and that women who are pregnant or new mothers contact their surgery if they are worried about their own or their baby's or child's health.

Dr Jacky McLeod, a GP in Lewisham said: "During this Covid-19 pandemic, we've all heard the message to stay at home as much as possible and it's great that people are doing this. GPs are still here for you though and it is important that you contact your surgery for advice or to make an appointment when you need to.

"So, if you need medical advice about something other than coronavirus don't be afraid to contact your surgery online or by telephone and they will advise you on whether you need to see a doctor or nurse.

"Even though we're experiencing a unique situation, it's important to remember that GP services, pharmacies, NHS 111, out-of-hours services and emergency departments are all still available to patients."

Although the Covid-19 pandemic means that patients are asked to contact their surgery online or by phone rather than go in person, doctors are still able to see patients via video conferencing or telephone consultation.

Doctors and nurses can also still see and examine patients in person if this is necessary. This may or may not be at your regular practice because, working together, surgeries in Lewisham have made arrangements to try and ensure that they assess people with symptoms of COVID-19 separately from other patients.

It is important to follow any guidance your practice has in place to keep you safe and continue to follow the government's guidance to prevent the virus spreading. The NHS has also published information about how access health advice at home.

We are encouraging all Lewisham residents to download the free ASK NHS GP app to any mobile device. The app features an interactive symptom checker which helps you find the right healthcare at the right time, whether that's NHS111, your GP appointment or accident and emergency, it also provides great advice on how to stay well and self-care. For more information, go to www.onehealthlewisham.co.uk/asknhsgp 

If you are worried about symptoms that might be cancer, you should still seek help and advice. Maybe you've found a new lump or have new or unusual bleeding, or have a persistent change in your bowel pattern. Please don't ignore it – these symptoms still need urgent investigation, so your GP will arrange this safely for you during Covid-19.  

We've noticed that GPs have been seeing fewer children, so parents please do use the symptom checker to guide you to the right service and contact your GP practice if you have concerns.

Access to the GP may initially by telephone and all surgeries across Lewisham are offering phone consultations or video consultations. If your GP feels you need to be seen at the surgery they will still make specific arrangements for you to be seen safely. This is particularly important for adults and children who are living with long-term conditions who may require repeat medication and a review by a practice, nurse GP or pharmacist.

Any routine annual checks still can be arranged, for example, to check blood pressure.

Found out more about online and video consultations here