A community centre in Harrogate is being temporarily turned into a GP clinic for patients with Covid-19 or who are showing symptoms of the virus to access a face-to-face appointment.
North Yorkshire CCG said until now Covid-positive patients urgently requiring a face-to-face GP appointment have attended their own surgery, but even with strict social distancing, PPE and infection control measures, it is ‘more practical’ to have a dedicated space elsewhere.
The CCG and local GP federation have secured use of the centre until January 2021, with locum GPs and part-time doctors due to begin seeing patients there from next week.
Mark Beesley, chief operating officer for the Yorkshire Health Network, said the need for an additional facility had become ‘even more pressing’ with activity back to pre-pandemic levels.
‘Finding an appropriate location has been a challenge – none of the practices in our network are large enough to be configured in such a way so they can be adequately segregated for Covid patients and the numbers of non-Covid patients we’re now seeing,’ he said.
Mr Beesley added that the community centre was ‘ideal’ because there is sufficient space for two consultation areas, which means GPs can alternate being the two – ‘seeing patients in one, while the other is properly deep-cleaned and sanitised for the next appointment’.
Meeting winter demands
Patients will be referred by their own GP practice where a face-to-face appointment is deemed ‘essential’, the CCG said, with slots scheduled between 12 and 6pm Monday to Friday.
The length of appointments have also been expanded to allow for PPE changes and patients will be escorted to and from the building to ensure ‘no crossover’ with other patients.
If a patient requires medication, an electronic prescription will be generated and sent directly to their usual pharmacy, the CCG added.
Dr Charles Parker, North Yorkshire CCG’s clinical chair, said: ‘This additional capacity will be of enormous benefit to practices throughout the Harrogate district and will help ensure doctors’ surgeries can continue to meet the demands of a busy winter period.’
Hot hubs and long Covid clinics
In April, GP-led ‘hot hubs’ for face-to-face assessments were set up around the country to diagnose and advise Covid-19 patients who were not in hospital.
Walsall, Oldham, Gloucestershire, West Sussex, North Staffordshire, and the eight North West London CCGs were among the CCGs that set up hubs at the time.
Meanwhile, earlier this week, NHS England announced the launch of more than 40 long Covid clinics to help patients who are still experiencing symptoms months after being infected.
The clinics are due to start opening at the end of November and will be staffed by doctors, nurses, therapists, and other NHS staff, who will carry out both physical and psychological assessments.