Surgeries "unlikely" to go back to pre-pandemic ways of operating

As lockdown eases, the one location that remains off limits for many in NHS Lanarkshire is a doctor’s surgery – but health chiefs are warned that this will continue to be the case.

And they have even stated that it is “unlikely” that there will be a return to the level of service that pre-dated the pandemic.

Some of our readers right across the board area have expressed frustration at the set up – and have unfavourably compared the premises to call centres that staff alone can enter. They have also hit out at what they see as the shortcomings of appointments by telephone or video call.

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However, there would seem to be no end in sight to this set-up after we pressed NHS Lanarkshire about future plans.

Dr Linda Findlay, medical director of South Lanarkshire Health and Social Care Partnership, said: “General practice has continued to provide services throughout Covid-19. Like many other areas, services have been provided in different ways to ensure everyone’s safety.

“It is unlikely that general practice will return to how it was before the pandemic. Services will continue to be provided in line with national guidance to keep everyone safe, as Covid restrictions will remain for a considerable period of time.

“Since the beginning of the pandemic, GP practices have increase their use of remote consultations by phone or video. This means most people are now receiving the NHS care and advice they need from their own home to reduce the spread of Covid-19.

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“The vast majority of patients are able to have their presenting clinical (non Covid-19) symptoms dealt with by a relevant healthcare professional over the phone.

“For those patients that require a face-to-face consultation, this is being undertaken using Near Me video consulting or an in person appointment where this offers additional clinical benefit. Patients will only receive a face-to-face appointment if necessary, for physical examination or if tests need to be carried out.”

However it has emerged that there is to be a “gentle remobilisation” of the non-elective surgical appointments, paused since January. This will begin with endoscopy procedures – and parents will be informed of new dates.

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