Please also see our COVID-19 information page
Our privacy materials have been updated with important information about sharing information during COVID-19
Saxmundham Health were all really keen to play a part in the vaccination campaign and agreed to offer COVID weekend vaccinations to our patients while our Primary Care Network (PCN) partner Practice in Leiston offered weekday vaccinations from Sizewell Club. Together NHS England approved the offer of 7-day vaccinations.
All our staff met and agreed a staffing rota to provide a seven day a week service from Saxmundham with usual GP work Monday to Friday and the extra vaccination service at weekends until our population was protected. Imagine our shock when we were told that, after an intense weekend, we should expect another supply of Pfizer vaccine on Monday that had to be given over the next few days due to the vaccine expiry date. Hasty plans were then made with a flagging workforce to add in afternoon and evening clinics from Tuesday for the rest of the week knowing we would still have the following weekend to cope with.
We have just completed ten days of solid back-to-back vaccination clinics and have vaccinated just short of 4000 patients! We have been out to the housebound and Nursing Homes, just like most General Practices, but few small Practices will have received so much of the expensive vaccine that has to be used quickly.
We are now down to inviting Group 6 which equates to patients between 60 and 65 and many will see this as unfair nationally where so many patients in higher risk groups are still waiting. I think this just shows how resourceful General Practice is in that if a laudable task is set we will move mountains to achieve it - but it is up to NHSE to set the tasks fairly across the country.
After a spate of retirements, we only have one GP Partner left so one might have thought that the capacity to respond to the challenge would be minimal. The truth is that General Practice is all about teams of Salaried GPs, Nurses, Managers, HCAs, Care Navigators, Dispensers and Secretaries who all play a crucial role in our achievement. Teamwork really is the answer and we include our very hard working Patient Participation Group who helped so much with marshalling and you, our patients, who made delivering the service both an honour and a joy.
In order to keep our staff and you as safe as possible, as we did earlier in the Pandemic, the main Surgery doors will be closed.
If you are attending for an appointment, please do not arrive early as you will not be able to come in and wait in the reception area.
When attending to pick up medications, these will be passed to you through the window in the main foyer.
The way out route through the surgery and via the back of the surgery will not be permitted at this time.
Saxmundham Health are endeavouring to minimise paper requests for medication as when paperwork is received at the surgery it has to be quarantined for 48 hours may cause a delay in the process. We request that the NHS App is used to request your medications as these requests are delivered straight into our clinical system, but we do understand and appreciate this is not always possible when medications are Acute Medications rather than a repeat and not everyone will have access to this I.T platform and we will do all we can to assist you to ease the ordering of medications.
We do understand this may cause a slight delay when attending the surgery so thank you for your patience and co-operation during these times and we will update with any information or changes as soon as we possibly can.
If you require any further guidance or information please visit our webpage or see the government coronavirus page.
The NHS Covid-19 vaccination programme is now underway and is starting to be rolled out in GP-led vaccination centres. The information below answers some of patients’ key questions about getting the vaccine.
1. When will I be getting the vaccine?
To protect those who are the most as risk first, the vaccine is initially being offered to patients aged 80 and over. More information about how the vaccine will be rolled out to people in order of priority, starting with those who most need protecting from the virus, is in the Why do I have to wait? leaflet.
Vaccinations are underway in the Suffolk for the first eligible groups. Patients need two doses of the vaccine less than 12 weeks apart.
2. How will I be invited for an appointment?
GP practices are working through our lists of eligible patients and we will contact you to invite you to book your appointment when it is your turn.
Please DO NOT contact the surgery to try to make an appointment for a COVID vaccine before you hear from us. This will allow our staff to focus on helping patients needing medical help as well as starting to contact patients about vaccine appointments when we’re able to do so. Practice staff are not currently able to give you any more information than we have provided here.
3. Where will I be getting the vaccine?
GP practices are working collaboratively to run local vaccination centres. Together, our teams bring years of experience and knowledge on delivering vaccination programmes. The vaccination centre for our patients is at Saxmundham Health and this is where you will come for your vaccine.
The Pfizer vaccine is safe and highly effective, but it is complex to move, store and prepare and so can only be given in vaccination centres that meet particular requirements.
4. Will housebound and care home patients be able to have the vaccine at home in the same way as for the flu vaccine?
We will be making arrangements to offer the Covid-19 vaccine in people's homes and in care homes for people who are unable to get to a vaccination centre.
We can’t confirm when that might be as this may have to wait for supply of the right type of vaccine. This is because only some vaccines can be transported between people’s homes.
You will be asked a series of questions to ensure you understand and consent to the vaccination and this will be recorded during your appointment. For further information and to view the consent form see this gov.uk publication.
Please go to the Covid-19 information page for all the latest FAQs regarding the Covid-19 vaccination.
Dr Havard and Suzie have been working on ways to improve the care of patients in Care Homes during the Covid pandemic.
Please see our Dispensary: Behind the Scenes video.
Please see our Care Navigation Behind the Scenes video
So, what improvements have we made that make Saxmundham Health stand out from the crowd and provide you with a better service?
We are extremely fortunate that Suzanne has joined us as a senior Mental Health Nurse. Suzanne used to be the Team Leader for all the Suffolk GP Mental Health workers. We are proud to be the only Practice in the County that offers five days a week of mental health worker support (ten sessions). This appointment cements our unique service and emphasises just how important we feel mental health is. Local GP Surgeries only have half a day a week so we feel very fortunate to be leading the way. We have two Mental Health Nurses, Suzanne and Sarah who cover the whole week between them.
Suzie is a very experienced Consultant Nurse who has recently joined us in a new demanding role which we are still developing. Suzie has 25 years of experience in out of hours, emergency care, primary care and ambulance services. She has managed large units in big hospitals, including Trauma and Orthopaedics in Ipswich, and Emergency Care in Addenbrookes. Suzie has Master of Science qualification in Advanced Practice, and will lead on our staff education and training as well as doing clinical work. We are also starting to develop our research in Practice which will be exciting, and only right for a General Practice at the cutting edge.
Prior to COVID I believe we were the only Practice offering five days a week of on-site Physiotherapy. Patients need urgent Physiotherapy assessments to ease pain and get back to normal activities. This cannot happen with long waits which can also make conditions more difficult to treat.
We have had some great successes with SHIFT (Saxmundham Health Intermittent Fasting Team) and, now Boris has pronounced on obesity, we will be bolder about taking this initiative forward. Please see this explanatory video called SHIFT which is about intermittent fasting.
Aside from this, we are also making a youtube video featuring three patients – two with pre-diabetes who have both lost over a stone (one nearly two stone) and one severe Type 2 has even now come off insulin. We want to celebrate their successes and use them to influence and encourage other patients. Tracey Riches our Diabetes Nurse Specialist has agreed to take part as she can make a powerful contribution from her experience with our diabetic patients - particularly as she has also lost over a stone herself!
We are also going to make a short video to explain to you, our patients, just why we are not back to normal yet and how we are obliged to follow the national guidance. This can be sent seamlessly while talking to you on the phone and will help us explain the current situation more fully.
We might even produce other short films to show you behind the scenes. It might be helpful for patients to witness the Dispensary checking processes and therefore understand why it takes time to deliver this service safely. We are always looking for ideas so please pitch in if you have got one or approach our PPG (Patient Participation Group).
Julia our Pharmacist has been with us for a year now and makes a massive difference in her patient contacts about medications. She came with a lot of Community Pharmacy experience which she still continues on a part-time basis alongside her commitment to us. We are now trying to recruit a second part-time Pharmacist to be able to offer a five full days a week service.
As the care of patients with chronic diseases increases we find the demand for blood testing also rises. Hospital patients are supposed to go to the hospital for their tests or Landseer Road in Ipswich but this is not always possible. We have just employed another Phlebotomist Sue who comes with many years experience from working at Woodbridge and she will doubtless make a swift impact.
Young people often find it most difficult to access mental health support. For this reason we have developed posters about common mental health problems that affect young people like anxiety/depression with QR codes. The codes link to interviews with young people about their problem and what the treatment was like. We place these posters inside toilet doors so the QR codes can be accessed in private and then the films can also be viewed at a time of their choosing.
Earlier on this year we had planned a new way of working called ‘Doctor Direct’ which involved telephone assessment by a clinician prior to an appointment. This was due to be launched on May 1st but, with COVID, we seamlessly moved into telephone assessments anyway. We are now pushing against an open door but still feel the leaflet is worth a read and attach it here.
We are always looking at how we do things and thinking about improvements to enhance the care of our patients. We are about to embark on a research project to improve care in Residential/Nursing Homes. The project involves Care Home staff using software we have had designed to assimilate a number of physiological measurements into a national score. These are things like pulse, respiratory rate, blood pressure etc and these are combined together to give a score. The Government has introduced weekly video ward rounds of Care Homes and we wanted to maximise the benefit of these. Clearly video can never be the same as face to face appointments but, if the consultation starts with systematically collected physical measurements, then we feel this should help identify early those patients who are becoming unwell. This is particularly important in patients with dementia as they may not be able to report if they feel unwell. Early identification should lead to prompter treatment and better outcomes - we will report our findings on the website.
Early on in the COVID outbreak it all became very scary after seeing what happened in Northern Italy and New Orleans. When the Government started building massive new hospitals it was clear we were facing a potentially massive crisis. There was speculation about 500,000 deaths which would have been particularly traumatic locally with our high percentage of elderly patients. The potential of full hospitals and looking after large numbers of dying patients at home was seriously worrying so we developed a strategy to help us cope should the predictions prove true. Fortunately they did not…..Our work was published in the Royal College Of General Practitioners Magazine.
Here at Saxmundham Surgery we are continuously striving to implement new projects which will have a beneficial effect on our patients and their health. Below are further details of some of our most recent projects.
Please read our December Newsletter
As you are all aware the current COVID-19 poses one of the greatest challenges that society has faced in recent times, and we have all had to make changes to our daily lives to ensure that we work together to protect the most vulnerable members of society. At the Practice we have had to make a number of responsive changes following recent developments to ensure the maximum safety of our patients, and to protect our staff as much as possible to ensure that the NHS can keep working in an effective manner and can continue to provide the best level of care possible.
As such, during the current period of emergency measures many routine services will be subject to short notice change and many administrative tasks will be streamlined to ensure that we focus more of our time and resources on the delivery of care to those that need it the most.
As part of this streamlining of administration tasks, the Practice will be changing its complaints procedures, during this period of crisis. As of 24th March 2020, we will now be reviewing complaints on a weekly basis at our Practice Clinical Meeting, to ensure that any high priority complaints that fall within the following categories can be swiftly discussed and any resulting changes to our Practice can be immediately implemented:
Should your complaint not fall into these categories, then it will be dealt with when we have capacity to do so, and unfortunately at this time, the timeframe for this is uncertain. We appreciate your understanding whilst our Practice is dealing with unprecedented demand.
My Care Record
My Care Record enables health and care professionals directly involved in your care to access information about you.
Providing you with:
Your GP, hospital, community health, mental health and social care teams may all hold important information about your care. We know that when information is made available between services in a more joined-up way, we can better meet your health and wellbeing needs.
We now have a common agreement that health and care organisations within our region will follow. We are calling this My Care Record. Where it is in place, professionals can access relevant information from other organisations that will help to deliver better care to you. For example, a doctor treating you in hospital or a nurse working in the community could view the information they need from your GP record.
Access to your records is made possible by several different types of secure technology. Information about you will only be accessed by health or care professionals who are directly involved in your care. Health and care professionals may access your records from different services to improve the care you receive as a whole.
In some areas, information from care records may also be used to help to plan and design how we deliver better services for you and the local population as a whole. In these cases, your name or any other recognisable information about you are not used so no-one working with the information would be able to identify you.
My Care Record is a key part of wider work to provide more joined-up care, connecting people, services and systems. As more care providers develop the technologies to view records across services, the benefits will increase.
Our organisation is part of the My Care Record approach which is supporting the work of health and care organisations across the East of England as they respond to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. For example, we are working to make sure doctors, nurses and co-ordination staff at places you may receive advice or treatment can see important information from your patient record. This could include NHS treatment centres such as the London NHS Nightingale Hospital. This will make it easier and faster for them to deliver effective care.
More information, including answers to frequently asked questions and a list of the organisations that are taking part can be found at the My Care Record website.
All of our telephone calls are recorded as part of our telephone call recording policy. Access and playback of recordings is carefully controlled and governed by data protection legislation. Only suitably training staff with the appropriate authority can access calls.
Access to calls may be for a number of reasons. The three main reasons are checking accuracy, answering complaints, and for staff training to improve service and skills.
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