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Please get in touch - but it will be different

Following the announcement by the Secretary of State for Health & Social Care, Matt Hancock, that GP online, video and telephone consultations are here to stay, one of East Anglia’s top doctors has made a short film to highlight how GP practices are operating to meet patient needs and keep everyone safe.

Dr Mark Shenton, a GP in Stowmarket and chairman of NHS Ipswich and East Suffolk Clinical Commissioning Group, has made the short film so that patients know what to expect as well as reminding them that their GP practice is very much open for business.

Dr Shenton says: “It’s really important that anyone who feels they need to access primary care services isn’t afraid to make contact. Our practice staff are there to help, but it’s important to contact us first either by ‘phone or online rather than turning up unannounced. Coronavirus is still very much with us, so we need to protect other patients and staff and it’s absolutely necessary to keep this restriction in place.

“Once you contact us, we’ll get back in touch with you - it might not always be a GP, it could be a physician associate, a nurse, pharmacist or physiotherapist depending on your medical need. Before coronavirus around 80% of consultations were done face-to-face, but now more than 70% of the time we can resolve issues by email, SMS, telephone or video consultations. Importantly, we’re also still able to refer you to hospital if required.

Dr Shenton concludes, by saying: “The big increase in the use of video and online consultations is here to stay, but there will still be times when face-to-face appointments are needed. If you are invited to attend in person you’ll likely notice a different layout, with precautions in place to keep everyone safe. It’s also really important you wear a face mask.

“Many patients have told us how much more convenient a digital consultation is for them. I very much welcome this transition and I am proud of my primary care colleagues in how they have responded so well to this situation to ensure continued access to primary care services.”

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