Health service users in Eden have been thanked by doctors for helping to keep the number of positive coronavirus cases, hospital admissions and mortality rate lower than a lot of the rest of the UK.
As the country enters into a second national lockdown, a joint statement has been issued on behalf of the Eden Primary Care network.
This includes all 10 general practice surgeries within the Eden Valley — Alston, Appleby, Birbeck, Court Thorn, Glenridding, Kirkoswald, Shap, Temple Sowerby, The Lakes and Upper Eden.
It states: “COVID-19 has turned all of our lives upside down for the past eight months and the end is not yet in sight.
“We want to say an enormous thank you to all our patients across Eden and North Cumbria for following national guidance.
“As a direct result we currently have a much lower number of positive cases, hospital admissions and mortality rate than a lot of the rest of the UK. We need to keep up this achievement.
“As GPs it has been necessary for us to make changes in order to keep you and us safe, and for surgeries to keep working.
“We have followed the national guidance and GP surgeries have all continued to see patients face-to-face where appropriate.”
The Primary care network has developed ways to support its patients, including:
• Telephone calls to prioritise patient need, to redirect to more appropriate services and to keep COVID-19 out of health care facilities.
• A texting service for those with access to a more modern mobile phone and remote video consultations have reduced surgery attendance, and frees us up to deal with more patient contacts.
• E-consult via practice websites which allows patients with IT access, a non-urgent health advice facility from the practice.
• Penrith-based respiratory assessment centre and home visiting service has ensured timely same day clinical assessment by an experienced GP as well as testing for patients suspected of having COVID-19.
Homebound and care home residents are seen, treated and followed up at home.
“We are now in the middle of the flu vaccination programme reaching the greatest number of people ever.
“We are catching up with national screening programmes which have been delayed and long-term illness reviews like diabetes, respiratory illness and heart disease.
“We have kept up with all the usual activity in unusual times such as new baby vaccinations and new mother check-ups.
“Eden health services are working even harder than usual to care for you all. We want to ensure that we continue to make those serious diagnosis, offer continuing care, be responsive to acute need, listen to your concerns and ease your distress.
“This is why Eden GP practices are asking all of you to continue to respect what we are trying to do.
“Like all practices, we sometimes experience really difficult behaviour and while we understand how frustrating life can feel in 2020, we want to be clear we won’t accept poor behaviour, in line with the NHS zero tolerance policy.
“Our staff are here to help you and will always try to be as polite and helpful as possible even during difficult times.
“On the occasions when people are rude to our frontline staff — the administrators handling appointments and directing your queries — it has an impact and demoralises the whole team.
“We are sorry when appointments are running late, but we may have other patients whose need may be greater than yours.
“We want to reassure you we really are working flat out and doing our best.
“Please help us to help you — there are also a number of options available that you can access to assist you; NHS website, NHS app, your local pharmacy, self care forum and also further information will be available on your practice websites to services that patients can refer to directly.”