Update of the COVID-19 Booster programme and Impact upon your GP services

Dear Patient

 Following the Prime Minister’s announcement on Monday 12th December, we want you to know that Derbyshire general practice will be moving into a new phase in the battle against COVID-19.

The PM’s ambitious target is to offer Covid booster jabs to everyone over 18 by the end of 2021, i.e., approx. 1 million vaccines a day for the next 17 days. With the worrying rise in the Omicron variant, it is clear from the Chief Medical Officers across the UK that without a substantial booster programme the NHS will be overwhelmed by a tsunami of cases, and care for patients with any medical condition will be impacted.

For the past 20 months practice teams across the county have been working relentlessly under the most challenging of circumstances, continuing to provide quality patient care to all patients, protecting the most vulnerable patients whilst simultaneously providing over 75% of the vaccinations given in the county to date. The new ask will be a huge challenge for practice teams that are already exhausted and being hit by the same illness and COVID impact as the rest of the nation. It will require everyone to work even harder and longer than they do now.

To meet the needs of this programme, patients will see a short-term change in the way care is delivered by general practice. Using guidance from both the Royal College of General Practitioners and the British Medical Association, practices will pause routine activity to free up their staff time to support enhanced vaccine delivery. Practices will continue to provide care for those presenting with urgent or potentially serious underlying problems such as known or suspected cancer.

We appreciate the concerns you may have and once again request your kindness, respect and understanding for the teams working incredibly hard within our practices to help as many people as possible. You might notice the following:

  • Delays in calls being answered
  • Routine care being delayed
  • Reception teams asking a lot of questions to help them get you to the best person first time, that person may not always be a GP
  • Delays in any paperwork such as health forms and sick notes being completed
  • That you are signposted to self-help and pharmacy options for self-limiting conditions

There are also a number of things you can do to help us:

  • Use the NHS website and self-care for simple medical conditions www.nhs.uk
  • Visit the Derbyshire Helpline if you are struggling with your mental health
  • Please do not contact the practice to request a COVID vaccination appointment. You will be contacted, or you can book through the National Booking System
  • Remember it is not too late to start your vaccine course. If you have yet to book your first dose, please do so now.

We hope to be able to stand back up any services as soon as possible and will update this page as soon as we know more.

Please don’t forget there are many services available for you, depending on your condition. These include:

  • Self-care – This is the best choice to treat minor illnesses and injuries such as hangovers, coughs, colds, grazes, small cuts or sore throats. Many of these can be treated at home, simply with over-the-counter medicines and plenty of rest.
  • Pharmacy – Pharmacists can give advice on and treat a range of symptoms. They can support you with things such as diarrhoea, earaches, painful coughs, sticky eyes, teething and rashes.
  • NHS 111 – You can access 111 online or via the telephone. This is for any urgent but non-life threatening health concerns. They will be able to signpost you to the relevant service and provide advice where appropriate, or book you in to an Urgent Treatment Centre.
  • A&E / 999 – You should only attend A&E or dial 999 in a life-threatening emergency such as severe bleeding, breathing difficulties and severe chest pain.

If you are now eligible for your COVID-19 booster please book it as soon as you can.

It is vital as many people as possible get boosted as soon as possible. Please do not ring the practice regarding your boosters, instead visit www.nhs.uk/covidvaccination or call 119 to book an appointment.

If you are a housebound patient, there is a community team which will be coming out to you to vaccinate you, so please do not contact your GP as the team will be making contact with you.

Thank you for your patience towards our team who are continuing to work hard to support the vital vaccine booster programme roll out.

Finally, everyone can play their part in limiting the spread of the Omicron variant and its impact on our local health care services. On behalf of all colleagues working across health and social care in Derbyshire, please could we ask you to help us by remembering the key messages we have repeated throughout the pandemic:

  • Wash hands well and often
  • Wear a face covering
  • Maintain a 2 metre social distance and limit social contact
  • Isolate and take a PCR test as soon as you develop any COVID-19 symptoms. Remember Lateral Flow Tests DO NOT exclude COVID infection – these are for screening well people with no symptoms only.

General practice teams across Derbyshire will be doing their very best for you and we know that you will want to do all you can to help us all get through this next phase in the pandemic.

Thank you again for your understanding, consideration, and kindness; it truly is appreciated by the whole team.

With thanks, Derby and Derbyshire LMC