Our thanks during this challenging time

By Dr Niruban Ratnarajah


We all know there have been tremendous changes to the way local health services have been working in the last 18 months.

This has been especially notable in GP surgeries which have, in order to keep staff and patients safe from coronavirus, substantially increased the number of online and telephone consultations.

Many patients have welcomed the changes as they don’t have to take time off work, arrange childcare or travel to attend an appointment. They are also likely to get an appointment more quickly than before.

We do, though, realise that these changes have not been welcomed by everyone. Some do not understand why they are being offered a telephone consultation rather than a face-to-face appointment, or are being dealt with by a health professional other than their GP.

We have produced a leaflet which answers some of the questions patients may have about why their GP is working differently. These include: Is my GP practice open? I need to contact my GP – what should I do? Why do reception staff ask so many questions?

The information is also on our website.

You may also have seen our features in the Bolton News on this topic and we will also be sharing some videos.

I want to say a huge ‘thank you’ to all our practice staff who are working incredibly hard during this extremely challenging time, dealing with Covid and non-Covid issues, and delivering vaccinations.

Bolton’s GP practices are actually seeing more patients than they were before the pandemic – a mix of telephone, online and face-to-face consultations when needed. This is at a time when GP numbers were already decreasing before the pandemic.

I also want to thank the vast majority of patients for their support and for the way they have responded to the changes.

I know that this is a worrying time. People may be anxious because they are waiting for treatment that has been delayed, or they may have decided not to visit their GP during lockdown. They may also be suffering poor mental or physical health due to the pandemic.

Everyone is under enormous pressure – and our health services are no exception. But please be assured that your GP practice is here to help you. We will get through this with your support.

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