- Why am I being offered a telephone consultation rather than a face-to-face appointment?
- I am worried I have coronavirus. What do I do? Do I need to see a doctor?
- Can I be tested for coronavirus?
- Can I take ibuprofen?
- I have heard I might have to change my blood pressure medication. What should I do?
- What if I am taking steroids (e.g. Prednisolone)?
- Do I need an Inhaler?
- Do I need to request my repeat medication early or request medication for several months in advance?
- Extensions to existing sick notes
- Fit Notes / MED-3 (“sick notes”) for coronavirus or self-isolation
- Midwife appointments / antenatal care / postnatal 6-week checks
- Useful sources of additional information
1. Why am I being offered a telephone consultation rather than a face-to-face appointment?
We are currently running a full telephone triage system as advised by Public Health England.
If you feel you need to speak to a clinician then please contact the surgery reception in the usual manner. There will be no pre-bookable appointments available. If you have previously be given an appointment it will be converted into a telephone consultation. Do not attend the surgery. You will be contacted on the day of your appointment by a clinician to discuss how we can help you.
Please make every effort to avoid attending the surgery given the risk this will pose to your own health and that of our staff. Please expect that our phone lines will be busier than usual and you may have to wait longer than expected to receive a call back. You can also contact us for non-urgent queries via the website. Note due to the high volume of enquiries it may take longer for us to get back to you and please bear with us during these difficult circumstances.
Routine review appointments for health checks, diabetes, asthma or COPD are not currently taking place. Only urgent blood tests such as those required for medication monitoring and safety will be carried out at this time.
The government has advised that we all practice social distancing measures to reduce social interaction between people in order to reduce the transmission of coronavirus. You need to be particularly stringent with this if you fall into a high risk group. You can find more information here.
Handwashing is also essential.
2. I am worried I have coronavirus. What do I do? Do I need to see a doctor?
For most patients, coronavirus (COVID-19) will be a mild illness. If you have mild symptoms of coronavirus then you should not attend the GP surgery, pharmacy or hospital.
If you are unsure of your symptoms, you should use the tool available at www.111.nhs.uk/covid-19. If you are unable to use the tool or if you feel your symptoms are getting worse then contact 111 by phone or 999 in an emergency.
The most important thing for you to do is self-isolate at home for 7 days from the start of the illness if you have:
- new continuous cough and/or
- high temperature
if you live with other people, they should stay at home for 14 days from the day the first person got symptoms. This will help to protect others in your community while you are infectious. You do not need to contact NHS 111 or the surgery to tell us you’re staying at home.
If you are unwell, it is important to drink water to keep yourself hydrated: you should drink enough during the day so your urine (pee) is a pale clear colour. You can use over-the-counter medications, such as paracetamol, to help with some of your symptoms. Use these according to the instructions on the packet or label and do not exceed the recommended dose.
3. Can I be tested for coronavirus?
Testing for coronavirus is not needed if you’re staying at home. GP’s currently have no access to testing for coronavirus. At the moment, only symptomatic patients who are poorly enough to be admitted to hospital (overnight admission) are tested.
4. Can I take ibuprofen?
Stories have been circulating online suggesting it’s dangerous to take ibuprofen if you have coronavirus.
“There is currently no strong evidence that ibuprofen can make coronavirus (COVID-19) worse. But until we have more information, take paracetamol to treat the symptoms of coronavirus, unless your doctor has told you paracetamol is not suitable for you. If you are already taking ibuprofen or another non-steroidal anti-inflammatory (NSAID) on the advice of a doctor, do not stop taking it without checking first.”
Patients currently taking Ibuprofen or other NSAID’s for other medical reasons (e.g. arthritis) should not stop them.
5. I have heard I might have to change my blood pressure medication. What should I do?
This relates to a class of medication called ACE-inhibitor (ACE-i) and Angiotensin Receptor Blocker (ARB) Drugs – Blood pressure medicines ending in -pril and -sartan e.g. Ramipril, Candesartan.
As advised by the Council on Hypertension of the European Society of Cardiology, there is not enough evidence at this stage suggesting these medications cause harm in the context of the COVID-19 outbreak.
They recommend patients should continue treatment with their usual blood pressure medications.
6. What if I am taking steroids (e.g. Prednisolone)?
Steroids are not a treatment for coronavirus infection. If you need a course of steroids for another illness (for example COPD or asthma), this will need to be assessed in the usual way via a GP or Nurse Practitioner appointment. If you are treated with long term steroids, do not stop them suddenly as this may make you unwell. You must discuss with a healthcare professional before stopping long term steroids.
7. Do I need an Inhaler?
Inhalers are not a treatment for coronavirus infection. For patients who use long term inhalers, please continue your current treatment unless you have specific concerns, or your symptoms have changed. Please do not request a larger supply of your inhalers. We do not expect any problems with our supply chain and there is no need to ‘stockpile’ medicine. If we issue lots of unnecessary inhalers now, we will create a problem with supplies and other people may not be able to get the medicine they need.
If you have used inhalers in the past, but not recently, you will need to discuss your request with a Doctor or Nurse. Please book a telephone consultation to do this.
8. Do I need to request my repeat medication early or request medication for several months in advance?
We do not expect any problems with our supply chain and there is no need to ‘stockpile’ medicine. We will continue to issue the usual 2-month supply of most repeat prescriptions, when they are due.
We will not issue early requests, or larger quantities of medicine, without a clear reason. If we issue lots of extra now, we will create a problem with supplies and other people may not be able to get the medicine they need.
9. Extensions to existing sick notes
We are trying to reduce footfall through the surgery and don’t want people coming in, to collect sick notes. Given the nature of the circumstances at the moment, we will try to text or email this to you if it is needed. It would be best to make this request via our website.
10. Fit Notes / MED-3 (“sick notes”) for coronavirus or self-isolation
The government line on this is that employees should take time off work if they’re ill. We will not routinely be providing sick notes for patients who are unwell as a result of Coronavirus.
By law, medical evidence is not required for the first 7 days of sickness (that is, employees can self-certify). Find a self-certificate form here if you require this.
After 7 days, it is for the employer to determine what evidence they require, if any, from the employee. To make it easier for people to provide evidence to their employer that they need to stay at home, the NHS has developed an alternative form of evidence to the fit note for those in isolation. This is available here.
In the meantime, we continue to urge employers to respect the need to stay at home where they are following government advice to do so and to show flexibility in the evidence they require from employees.
People who are not unwell, but in isolation due to a household contact showing symptoms, are not eligible for a sick note (because they are not ill). Their employer could try to find alternative work for them to do from home.
11. Midwife appointments / antenatal care / postnatal 6-week checks
We anticipate antenatal care to continue as usual and will be organised by midwives. Expect to be screened by them for any concerning symptoms before you are asked to attend. These do not take place at the medical centre. Routine 6-week postnatal checks are being delayed but you may contact us via the appointment system If you have specific concerns for yourself or your baby.
12. Useful sources of additional information
Stay at home: guidance for households with possible coronavirus (COVID-19) infection
- Coping with stress – good leaflet for patients (225 KB)
- Coronavirus: Apps to help self-management
- COVID info for children (1.47 MB) (young)
- Facts4Life Coronavirus Children (224 KB) (older)
- People with inflammatory bowel disease
- People with cancer
- People with Rheumatoid Arthritis
- Adults with anxiety
- Young people with anxiety
- Older people
- People with Heart/circulatory disease
- Children/young people Type 1 diabetes
- Pregnant women
- People affected by Stroke
- People with Diabetes
- People with Asthma
- Underlying lung disease (British Lung Foundation)
- Pituitary/ adrenal insufficiency (including steroid sick day rules)
- General NHS advice
Disclaimer: Although efforts have been made to review the accuracy of the information above, this is a fast changing situation and you should keep yourself up-to-date by reviewing current sources of information available. Last reviewed on 20th March 2020.