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You local GP surgery is working differently during Coronavirus but be assured that it is still here for you.
Is my GP practice open?
GP Practices are open but they are working differently to protect patients and staff. They have worked hard to provide a service throughout lockdown and continue to deal with Covid and non-Covid issues, as well as delivering vaccinations.
GP practices can often be very limited on space, so they can’t have lots of people in the waiting room AND comply with social distancing and infection control measures. This is to protect you and staff.
Does that mean they aren’t as busy?
GP practices are busier than ever and sadly, losing staff at a drastic rate. People are living longer, so have more health issues. Plus some people have been putting off contacting their GP during the pandemic. People have even more ways of contacting their GP now, such as via online forms. It takes time to sort through these forms and find those that are most urgent. Many issues could easily be dealt with at home first. A practice can have 25 Online Consults ready to action on a Monday morning. This equates to a full day of a clinician’s time – and this is before the phone starts ringing!
I need to contact my GP practice – what should I do?
You can fill out an Online Consult form or phone your practice and you will be assessed (triaged) over the phone. After this, you may need either a telephone or video consultation, a face to face appointment or help from your local pharmacy.
This is the safest way for patients and ensures that those who need it most, get treated first. Many cases can be dealt with over the phone and this prevents you from travelling to the surgery unnecessarily. If you do need to go in for an examination, you will be given an appointment.
Why do reception staff ask so many questions?
GP reception staff are a vital part of the team at your practice and they treat all information as confidential.
They have to ask questions to ensure you get the right help, at the right time. They are trained to ensure patients are matched to the most appropriate person in the practice and that those with the highest need are dealt with first.
Why am I seeing someone who isn’t my GP?
Many GP practices have teams of specialists working alongside GPs. These teams can include advanced nurse practitioners, health care assistants, mental health specialists, pharmacists, practice nurses, paramedics and musculoskeletal practitioners (MSK).
All are highly trained professionals and they enable you to be treated by the most appropriate member of the practice team.
Where else can I get help?
Your local pharmacy can help with lots of minor issues. If you need urgent help, visit 111.nhs.uk or dial 111. You can also visit www.nhs.uk for advice on common symptoms.
What about emergencies?
If you have a serious injury or life-threatening emergency, dial 999 or attend the Emergency Department (A&E). If you need urgent help in the evening or at weekends, you can still contact your GP practice for out-of-hours help – you’ll be asked to call another number for assessment. Why is my GP working differently?
Please be patient and kind.
All our health services are under enormous pressure and our staff are working hard to help you in the best way they can. We are open and here if you need us. Please support us to ensure you get the right care at the right time and by the right people. Our staff are here to help you, and don’t deserve to receive abuse, so please be kind.
Even though patients are asked to access their GP services differently, the practice is still operating from 8am to 6.30pm, Monday to Friday.
Access to GP surgeries outside of core hours
If you require an appointment between 6.30pm and 9.30pm Monday to Friday, or a weekend appointment, contact your GP practice as usual and you will be advised to attend one of three hubs:
- Waters Meeting Health Centre
- Winifred Kettle Centre
- the Urgent Treatment Centre, based at the Royal Bolton Hospital (access via Main Entrance)
If you need urgent help from a GP, day or night, please ring your GP practice as normal and you'll be directed to the right service at the right time.
Emergency dental appointments
If you need help with an urgent dental problem, call the Greater Manchester Urgent Dental Care Service on 0333 332 3800 from 8am to 10pm every day, including weekends and bank holidays.
You can only get an appointment with this service if you don’t have a dentist or if your dentist is closed. This is an appointment-only service – no drop-in service is available.
If you need help finding an NHS dentist, visit the NHS website.
Lots of minor illnesses can be effectively treated at home. Keep a well stocked medicine cabinet to help relieve any minor symptoms. Examples of when you should use self care would be hangovers, minor cuts and bruises along with coughs and colds.
Your local pharmacy is also still here to help during coronavirus.
Pharmacies can help with lots of minor conditions, such as headaches, coughs and colds, rashes, diarrhoea/vomiting, earache.
Most prescriptions are now generated electronically from GP practices. However, it still takes a few days for them to be processed, ready for collection or delivery. So, if your GP writes you a prescription it won’t immediately be ready at your pharmacy – even if they are just next door to each other.
Repeat prescriptions can take up to seven days to process, but if your medication is urgent, please let your pharmacist know.
If your GP prescribes you medication that needs to be started straight away, like pain relief or antibiotics, please check with your pharmacy as to when it will be ready – they will need time to prepare it for you.
You can always contact your pharmacy by phone either for advice about minor ailments or ring ahead if you’re intending to collect a prescription.
Phone lines are busy at the moment but keep trying and you will get through.
If you do need to visit a pharmacy, please remember to wear your mask unless you are exempt. This is for everyone’s safety and is especially needed if your pharmacist needs to get a bit closer to look at your symptoms, for example if you have a rash or sore eye.
A&E is for serious injuries and life threatening conditions only. If you go to A&E with minor health problems you may be turned away and directed to a more suitable NHS service.
NHS Bolton Foundation Trust
Royal Bolton Hospital, Minerva Road Farnworth, Bolton BL4 0JR.
Tel: 01204 390390
Greater Manchester Mental Health NHS Foundation Trust
Bury New Road, Prestwich, Manchester, M25 3BL.
Tel: 0161 773 9121
Mental health and wellbeing support
If you need to speak to somebody, the following organisations can offer help and support:
Single Point of Access (SPA)
If you need help with anxiety or depression, you can contact Single Point of Access (SPoA) 9am to 5pm, Monday to Friday, excluding bank holidays.
SPoA can make a referral on to the best service to help you.
Contact 01204 483101 or visit the the Greater Manchester Mental Health NHS Foundation Trust website for for more information.
Whatever you are facing, the Samaritans are there to listen in confidence and without judgement. Free telephone support is available 24/7, including over the Christmas period.
Call 116 123 or visit the Samaritans website for more ways to get in touch.
The charity provides one-to-one, drpop-in group support in Bolton for people living with a mental health condition. Support is available most days, including Christmas Day.
Band has a social space at Unit 9C, Market Place - previously Cafe Dolce.
Contact the social space on 01204 380643, BAND’s office on 01204 38064 or email email@example.com.
More information is on the BAND website.
Online counselling and emotional well-being support for children and young people up to the age of 25.
Online counselling and emotional wellbeing support for parents aged 26 and over, if they are helping to support theur child's mental health or if they need direct emotional support for their own mental wellbeing.
Parents and carers under the age of 26 can access the same support from Kooth.
Run by specialist nurses from Bolton NHS Foundation Trust, provides parents and young people with quick and easy access to confidential health advice.
Parents can text 07507 331751 and young people can text 07507 331753 for support on a variety of topics.
ChatHealth is free (standard message rates apply).
National charity which helps young people under the age of 35 who may be experiencing suicidal thoughts, or help for those worried about someone.
Call 0800 068 41 41 or visit the Papyrus website.
Primary Care Networks
Primary Care Networks (PCNs) are groups of practices that work together with community, mental health, social care, pharmacy, hospital and voluntary services in their local areas.
There are nine PCNs in Bolton. Find out more.