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New COVID-19 clinics to help self-isolating patients access urgent medical advice

09/04/2020

New temporary clinics are being set up around Northamptonshire to enable people with COVID-19 symptoms to be safely seen face-to-face by a GP or other healthcare professional.

The majority of people who are self-isolating with COVID-19 symptoms can manage their symptoms at home, and if they need to consult their GP they can often do so remotely via telephone or video consultations.

In some cases, however, people with COVID-19 symptoms will need to be seen face-to-face by a general practice professional – either in relation to the COVID-19 symptoms themselves or because of an unrelated medical complaint that can’t be assessed remotely.

It’s vital such patients can receive the care and treatment they need while at the same time stopping the spread of infection and protecting the safety of healthcare staff and the wider public.

For this reason, the NHS in Northamptonshire is working to establish a number of dedicated clinics at strategic locations around the county.

In line with national guidance, these clinics are specially equipped to ensure patients with COVID-19 symptoms can be safely seen by a healthcare professional in an appropriate setting, instead of them having to visit their own GP practice or an urgent care setting.

Patients are only seen at one of these clinics if they are referred to the service by their own GP, and they will be told when they need to attend. These are NOT walk-in facilities and they do NOT offer patient testing for COVID-19.

After being assessed at the clinic, patients may be able to return home to self-care or they may be referred onwards for treatment in a hospital or community healthcare setting.

Dr Naomi Caldwell, GP Clinical Lead for NHS Northamptonshire Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), said: “As we approach the expected coronavirus peak in the coming weeks, more and more people will unfortunately experience COVID-19 symptoms and quite rightly have to isolate themselves at home to stop the spread of the virus.

“That means they wouldn’t be able to see their GP or visit a local urgent care facility in the normal way – so we want to make sure we have the right services in place to enable them to have a face-to-face medical assessment if they need to.

“Anyone isolating with COVID-19 symptoms should first visit the NHS 111 website at 111.nhs.uk/coronavirus for advice and information, but if they have an urgent medical concern – whether coronavirus related or not – they should call their GP practice in the usual way. If their GP thinks they need to visit one of our new clinics they will be told what they need to do, where to go and when.

“These clinics cannot accept walk-in patients and in order to keep them running safely and protect staff, patients and the general public, it’s really important to stress that people should only ever go if instructed by their own GP.”

The first of the new clinics opened on Tuesday 7 April at the University of Northampton’s Waterside campus. Temporary buildings have been set up at the site to accommodate initial ‘drive-through’ assessment, followed by face-to-face medical examination in a safe environment if this is required.

Six further clinics are expected to open at sites around the county within the next two weeks. Specific locations for these sites are yet to be finalised, but they will be strategically situated in and around Northamptonshire’s major towns to ensure they are as easy to access as possible.

Patients who are housebound can be supported by a new primary care home visiting service, which again is accessible through GP practices and has been established as part of Northamptonshire’s COVID-19 response.
A potential location under consideration for the Corby clinic is the town’s Urgent Care Centre in Cottingham Road. Should this site be chosen for a COVID-19 clinic, an urgent care service would continue to run as normal from the centre, with COVID-19 patients accessing the building via a separate entrance and exit.

Local healthcare leaders, general practice colleagues and specialist hospital consultants have been working closely together to develop this new clinical procedure for the running of the new clinics. They are expected to remain in operation throughout the coronavirus pandemic.

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