COVID within Hartland Surgery

Over the past few days, we have had a number of staff who have tested positive for COVID.

If you develop any of the following you should arrange a test through the government COVID website:

  1. A high temperature
  2. A new, continuous cough
  3. Loss or change to your sense of smell or taste

Remember that any one of these would be a reason for you to get tested.

We will therefore postpone all face to face contacts with a bare minimum telephone or email service in place to protect our patients. We also need to avoid staff working within the practice building where possible to prevent further spread. If your problem is not urgent, could you please give us 2 weeks to get the surgery back towards a more normal service.

If possible please contact us by email or eConsult through our practice website, and we can email or ring you back if required.

“plandemic” online video on social media

Some friends and family have asked us about the online “plandemic” video which has been forwarded on social media. This video suggests the Coronavirus epidemic is manmade, and designed to allow profit from vaccine makers.

Having watched the entire film, Its complete nonsense, but mixed with a sprinkle of truth to make it believable. I am worried about how it will affect people who are already worried enough about this serious pandemic.

There have also been stories suggesting COVID is caused by 5G next generation phone technology.

And even a few weeks ago wembley stadium had to deny they were turning the stadium into a giant oven to cook lasagna.

So to all our patients, please stay safe, trust and follow national advice and please don’t forward along any utter nonsense which is sent to you in social media. Some worried people are losing their minds.

Online Consultations and new technology

We are trying to respond to being a “socially distant” GP service by using modern technology where possible to still provide you with safe access to our GP services.

This means we are doing a lot of our work by:

  • telephone
  • email
  • text message (SMS)
  • video to your mobile phone

We will also be trying an online consultation system called eConsult.  We will “Go Live” on Monday 4th May through the link on our website. It will ask you a series questions and this will try and provide us enough information to respond directly to your request where possible. It will also try and offer online advice from trusted NHS advice websites to help you.

We will aim to provide a response by the end of  next working day and sooner if possible. If you have a mobile phone, we will prefer to respond by SMS message as this seems to link up well in our “back end”, but we can email you if you prefer.

We are especially hoping this will keep the practice and community safe when we have visitors later into the summer months, who will be wanting to escape to Devon from the lockdown for a well deserved holiday. If we can provide some forgotten medication or provide medical advice without bringing them into the surgery, then everyone should be safer.

Hartland Surgery – Supplementary Privacy Note on Covid-19

Updated on 8th April 2020

This notice describes how we may use your information to protect you and others during the Covid-19 outbreak. It supplements our main Privacy Notice which is available here.

The health and social care system is facing significant pressures due to the Covid-19 outbreak. Health and care information is essential to deliver care to individuals, to support health and social care services and to protect public health. Information will also be vital in researching, monitoring, tracking and managing the outbreak. In the current emergency it has become even more important to share health and care information across relevant organisations.

Existing law which allows confidential patient information to be used and shared appropriately and lawfully in a public health emergency is being used during this outbreak. Using this law the Secretary of State has required NHS Digital; NHS England and Improvement; Arms Length Bodies (such as Public Health England); local authorities; health organisations and GPs to share confidential patient information to respond to the Covid-19 outbreak. Any information used or shared during the Covid-19 outbreak will be limited to the period of the outbreak unless there is another legal basis to use the data. Further information is available on here and some FAQs on this law are available here.

During this period of emergency, opt-outs will not generally apply to the data used to support the Covid-19 outbreak, due to the public interest in sharing information. This includes National Data Opt-outs. However in relation to the Summary Care Record, existing choices will be respected. Where data is used and shared under these laws your right to have personal data erased will also not apply. It may also take us longer to respond to Subject Access requests, Freedom of Information requests and new opt-out requests whilst we focus our efforts on responding to the outbreak.

In order to look after your health and care needs we may share your confidential patient information including health and care records with clinical and non clinical staff in other health and care providers, for example neighbouring GP practices, hospitals and NHS 111. We may also use the details we have to send public health messages to you, either by phone, text or email. During this period of emergency we may offer you a consultation via telephone or video- conferencing. By accepting the invitation and entering the consultation you are consenting to this. Your personal/confidential patient information will be safeguarded in the same way it would with any other consultation.

We will also be required to share personal/confidential patient information with health and care organisations and other bodies engaged in disease surveillance for the purposes of protecting public health, providing healthcare services to the public and monitoring and managing the outbreak. Further information about how health and care data is being used and shared by other NHS and social care organisations in a variety of ways to support the Covid-19 response is here.

NHS England and Improvement and NHSX have developed a single, secure store to gather data from across the health and care system to inform the Covid-19 response. This includes data already collected by NHS England, NHS Improvement, Public Health England and NHS Digital. New data will include 999 call data, data about hospital occupancy and A&E capacity data as well as data provided by patients themselves. All the data held in the platform is subject to strict controls that meet the requirements of data protection legislation.

In such circumstances where you tell us you’re experiencing Covid-19 symptoms we may need to collect specific health data about you. Where we need to do so, we will not collect more information than we require and we will ensure that any information collected is treated with the appropriate safeguards.

We may amend this privacy notice at any time so you may wish to review it frequently. The date at the top of this page will be amended each time this notice is updated.

Vulnerable patients for Coronavirus (COVID-19)

A number of our patients fall into an extremely vulnerable group, also known as “shield” group. This group of around 1.5 million people nationwide (around 2% or 50 patients in our practice) should have received a letter from NHS England, and their names have been held on a central list. We understand this group will receive priority for supermarket home delivery if they cannot get help from their community for collecting shopping.

We recognise that this group does not include many of our patients who are also more vulnerable (around 35% or 1000 patients in our practice). We can check against national guidance if any of our patients think they may have been missed.

We cannot provide doctors letters to our many hundreds of other vulnerable patients or their carers, requesting special consideration.

We would urge these people to make use of the fantastic local volunteers who have kindly offered to try and keep everyone in our community safe. This vulnerable group includes those who are:

Further advice and detailed criteria for who is “extremely vulnerable” is available online, since this information is being rapidly updated, it may be helpful to search by relevant condition. eg “asthma coronavirus” in google or another search engine.

Learning to Dispense – sorry for slow prescription times.

Wow, an “interesting” day for Me and Ruth today, as we had a crash course in dispensing medications. Its not easy, and what an amazing job our dispensing team do week in week out! It must be frustrating for some of you, so thanks for understanding. We are not quick.

We know that pharmacys and dispensarys up and down the country are working flat out as everyone wants to make sure they have adequate medications for the weeks ahead. But this means we are trying to work twice as fast, and with half the staff right now.

Thankfully everyone is still fit and well, but for safety several members of the team are self isolating to protect themselves or other staff and our patients from potential risk of infection. We look forward to their return soon.

We have again had many kind words from people today, a big thanks for your support and all your efforts to serve our wider community.

Meanwhile Aldi was lovely and quiet and very well stocked at 7.45pm on our way home tonight. We hope our surgery will catch up by next week, just like they have managed this last week.

Stay home and stay safe everyone.

Best wishes, Sam Tapsell

Daily Update – busy times to avoid calling.

As you may know we are running the practice with minimal staff numbers alongside especially high demand for medications.

We are now handing out medications during 12-1pm and 5-6pm.

Please try to avoid telephone calls to the practice during these busy times if at all possible. You must allow 72 hours after ordering, and please dont phone to check if ready, our staff are working flat out. We will send out prescriptions with local volunteers where possible to reduce visits into the surgery.


Coronavirus – COVID19

Message from Dr Sam Tapsell To all of our patients on Fri 20 March 2020:

This has been a tough week and we are very grateful for the huge amount of support we have felt from our community. We need your help to make sure we can keep running in the difficult months ahead. We are a small team working at bare minimum due to “self isolation” to protect our patients, staff and their families. So please:

  1. CHECK ONLINE. If you are unwell with fever or cough, stay at home and get NHS advice online. Isolation notes (sick notes) are also available online as well as the 111 symptom checker.
  2. STAY SAFE. If you are vulnerable by age or illness, you must stay at home and stay safe.
  3. STOP THE SPREAD. Please don’t visit the surgery unless you really need to. Dont check if your medications are ready, don’t call in to ask if we are open as usual. We need to reduce the “traffic” and risk of infection coming through the surgery and of course please wash your hands!
  4. DON’T PANIC. Please allow at least 72 hours for normal medication requests. We have amazing staff working nights and weekends to keep up with demand and make sure you will be well supplied.
  5. HELP US. We can process requests much more easily by online ordering, paper request or by email. Try to only phone as a last resort.
  6. GET ORGANISED: Please collect medication between 12-1 and 5-6pm. Please use the volunteer delivery service if you are self isolating, more details will be added in coming days as groups are already organising in Hartland, Welcombe and Woolsery. Many thanks to all the volunteers putting their names forwards through local facebook groups.
  7. KEEP NEAR YOUR PHONE. Most appointments are now by telephone. When we need to see you in person, we will need to consider the safest way this can be done.

Thanks again,

Sam and Ruth Tapsell