This page has been archived. The latest status update can be found here.
You may have received a short text or phone message from us regarding a Coronavirus Status Update, but due to size limitations when sending text messages, you have been directed to this page for further information.
This is our January update following on from our last status update at Christmas time.
Since the last update, the country has entered another period of national lockdown.
The pandemic continues to run unabated, powered on by both the relaxation of the rules at Christmas and a highly transmissible new variant, with the ONS now reporting that up to 1 in 50 people you meet in the street could have coronavirus, rising up to 1 in 30 people infected in London. This compares to (only!) 1 in 4,000 infected in June.
Hospitals all around the country are filling to capacity with the risk of being overwhelmed, and with difficult decisions having to be made about the tens of thousands of patients every single day. With a 50% rise in admissions of covid patients since Christmas, such patients now account for almost a third of all patients in a hospital bed.
The number of excess deaths (how many more people are dying than would be expected) in the UK is now at the highest level since World War Two, with 91,000 more deaths than expected so far.
Death rates in the UK remain one of the highest in the world, at 151 per 100,000 people, now exceeding countries like the US, Mexico and Spain. In stark contrast, other countries like New Zealand and Australia have rates of only 0.5 and 3.6 per 100,000 respectively.
New cases now appear to be on the decline with the lockdown taking some effect, however deaths have still not peaked and will continue to rise until mid-February at the earliest.
And it is the elderly and most vulnerable who are suffering at the hands of this virus, they are the ones who are filling up hospital wards or dying in their care homes.
But the fact is, no-one is spared from the effects of this pandemic, from everyone's mental health being at risk, to cancer operations having to be postponed, to our children's learning and their future prospects being adversely affected, to hardworking people losing their jobs and livelihoods, to all of us having to work harder and harder just to stand still. We are all suffering as part of the collateral damage caused by being in this global pandemic.
Like it or not, we are in the midst of a global pandemic, dealing with a respiratory virus that is actively transmitted from one human to another, so we all have a responsibility and a duty to do our bit in the efforts to fight this and to do all we can to keep our loved ones safe, otherwise we will all be having to live with this much longer than is absolutely necessary.
So please, can we all do the right thing and follow the rules - stay at home, protect the NHS and save lives. It is all for your own good, and will help to bring an end to what we are all going through.
Please follow the rules, otherwise we will all be living with this much longer than is absolutely necessary
As before, please follow the rules on what you can and can't do.
We thank all our patients for supporting us at this difficult time, but we do need to carry on working together to protect the NHS for those patients who really need it.
We do not have any special protection to shield us from the effects of this pandemic. Our people are just like you and yours - our people have children and families, elderly relatives, our people have medical conditions that make them vulnerable, our people need to work from home to keep themselves safe, our people also develop symptoms and have to self-isolate, our people go off sick with illness and with stress and worry.
We are just like everyone else. But all the time, we are also trying to provide a service for you and yours too. We are all working extremely long hours, flat-out under extreme pressure with huge workloads and we are all doing our very best in very difficult circumstances. So we kindly ask that anyone using our service to please be patient, polite and considerate to our staff.
As vaccine roll-out accelerates, all practices will need to divert significant resources currently used in managing day-to-day work to vaccinate as many people as quickly as possible. This is part of a national directive aimed at freeing up practices to do this work because, compared to any other measure aimed at tackling the virus, vaccination will have the greatest impact by far on reducing levels of disease in the community and reducing death rates.
There will come a time when we will be following local and national guidelines to suspend all non-urgent work; this means that we will only deal with your condition/problem if it is clinically urgent. We will notify you when this happens and of course, will always let you know options.
In preparation for this, we kindly ask that patients start to just pause and think before contacting us (either by phone or by eConsult). To help, we have prepared the following information regarding common queries that we are currently getting contacted about.
We are being inundated with calls about covid vaccine. This runs the risk of taking up all our phone lines and blocking urgent calls coming in. Before you call, please visit our covid vaccination page for information and check if it answers your query first.
Please be aware that hospitals are as busy as ever, dealing with covid cases, urgent cases as well as prioritising cancer care. We urge all patients awaiting hospital appointments to be patient and wait to be contacted.
If your appointment is delayed and you desperately need an update, or you need the result of a test that the hospital has carried out, please ring the secretary of the hospital consultant that you are under directly for this information.
We do not have any special hotline numbers to the hospital and we are not routinely copied in to results of tests carried out by other services, therefore our staff cannot provide you with this information; in fact, it is the duty of the clinician who requested the test to follow-up the result and take any necessary actions, which in the case of hospital tests will be the consultant and their teams, not your GP.
Please be aware that simply waiting a longer time than you would wish does not make your request urgent. Unfortunately, in the current situation, everyone is waiting longer*. We cannot write letters to expedite your appointment for this reason.
However, if your condition has been assessed as actively deteriorating and you do not have any appointment forthcoming, we are able to write a letter for you, however getting a quicker appointment as a result is not always guaranteed, as we have no influence on how the hospital is managing and prioritising their own workloads.
*Official figures published last week show that a total of 4.46 million people were waiting to start hospital treatment in England at the end of November 2020, the highest number since records began.
Again we need to remind patients that if you suspect coronavirus, you must self-isolate and get a test for covid, with no exceptions. There is no need to inform us if you have suspected or proven coronavirus. We are automatically copied into results of covid tests performed by our patients.
Follow official advice about self-isolating at home and find out what to do if you get worse:
Again, we cannot stress enough, if you have a cough, please book a covid test - it is not always possible to tell that it is definitely not coronavirus, and we urge all patients with any new cough to get a test, as a positive test not only changes the situation you find yourself in and what you need to do, but affects each and every person around you.
If you have coronavirus, but you feel you are getting worse, please follow official guidance and use the 111 online service, or ring 111 if you have no online access. These services will tell you what to do. Please do not book a telephone appointment or use eConsult if you are getting worse.
Examples of getting worse include: being so short of breath that you cannot climb stairs, not being able to finish a sentence when speaking, not being able to do all the things you would normally do, e.g., housework, chores, cooking.
If you are very poorly, do not hesitate at all, and ring 999, telling them that you are poorly with coronavirus.
Examples of being very poorly include: struggling to breathe, coughing up blood, blue lips or a blue face, feeling cold and sweaty, pale or blotchy skin, have a rash that does not fade when you roll a glass over it, collapse or feeling faint, confused, very drowsy, not passing much urine. Do not delay. Ring 999.
Seek official advice on what to do:
Do not book with the GP or use eConsult*
Do not delay
Use 111 online
Ring 111 only if you have no internet access
Ring 999 if very poorly
Follow official advice about self-isolating at home and find out what to do if you get worse:
*This is not about avoiding responsibility; official guidance is for deteriorating patients to contact the 111 service, so that they can be assessed against standard criteria for hospital admission or self-care at home.
With all the above, we are providing information on some of the more frequent queries that are coming in at the moment. But please note that we are not discouraging you from getting in touch if you have a genuine medical need. In fact, we encourage you to contact us if you have any symptoms of serious illness.
Please do get in touch with worrying symptoms that could indicate cancer, such as bleeding from an orifice, change in bowel habit, unexplained lumps, unintended weight loss, difficulty swallowing, persistent hoarseness or cough and so on.
We know many patients are put off from contacting us, as they don't want to go into hospital at the current time, but it is important that if you have any 'red flag' symptoms that you should seek timely advice from your doctor.
Remember, usual advice about emergency 'red flag' symptoms still apply, so, for example, if you suspect a stroke or a heart attack, or meningitis, you must ring 999.
We strongly encourage all patients to start using our symptom checker which tells you if your symptom or condition carries a 'red flag' () and tells you whom you need to contact about it.
After all that worry, if you look up your symptom, you may find that it needn't be as concerning, or you may find that some other service or professional can help and support you quickly and easily.
All these tools we provide are designed to get you the most appropriate help at the right time.
After reviewing our eConsult usage and times of submissions, we have decided to bring forward the cut-off time for a same day response. The cut-off time is the time before which, if you submit an eConsult to us, we will provide you with a same-day response.
The cut-off time is now 12pm, with effect from January 18th.
eConsults submitted before 12pm will receive a same day response, whilst eConsults submitted after 12pm will now receive a response before the end of the next working day. You will be reminded of this if you start to submit an eConsult after the cut-off time.
Just a reminder that a response from the surgery is not always an appointment and may include advice, referral to another service or source of information, a prescription, a telephone appointment same day or at a later date, or a request to perform tests. Responses might be by telephone, text or email using the contact details you have supplied.
Recent patient surveys have shown that, month on month since its inception, eConsult is being received increasingly positively by the majority of those that use it, now with 69% being satisfied with the service and 73% who would recommend the service to their family and friends. We hope that as time goes by, more and more of you will appreciate using the service.
If you do need medical advice, and have not yet dared or tried to use the service, it remains available at our website. If you feel you need a go of eConsult first before submitting a real one, why not give the demo site a go first (no harm will be done!)
And please try not to worry, because even if you can't manage and are having difficulties with eConsult, our friendly receptionists are trained to assist you and walk you through an eConsult and submit it on your behalf.
Dr Wordley is hanging up his stethoscope at the end of March. Please read his message to you all below and also leave him your good wishes or type the shortcut ivy.gs/wishes
As was mentioned in the last update, after a career spanning four decades, Dr Wordley has decided that he will be retiring at the end of March. Here we have him reflecting upon his time here, which some of you might find interesting.
As I approach my 65th birthday I have decided that now is the time to hang up my stethoscope and retire.
It is hard to believe that it is over 40 years since I started working in Ripley. I first arrived in the summer of 1980, having just got married to my lovely wife Hilary, who is also a doctor. We were not expecting to stay in Ripley for very long as this was a GP training post.
During our first few weeks in Ripley we lived in an upstairs room at the old surgery as our new house in The Spinney was not quite ready. At that time the surgery was based in a large Victorian house at 1, Derby Road (where the Co-op supermarket now stands). Dr Aspinall was my trainer, and I gradually learned on the job how to be a GP.
Looking back, I realise how young and inexperienced I must have seemed, yet the partners (Drs Aspinall, Cox and Jones) obviously saw some potential as within a few months I was offered the chance to join the partnership. However, first it was necessary to spend six months working in the maternity unit in Derby, as the job would include supervising deliveries at Babington Hospital. These invariably happened in the middle of the night!
Soon after I arrived the surgery moved into brand-new premises just across the road at the top of Ivy Grove. This modern building served us well for about 25 years before it was completely outgrown, forcing us to move once more to the present large building, still known as Ivy Grove Surgery.
Forty years ago, all we needed was a couple of receptionists and a secretary. Five-minute appointments were ample, and we kept all our records on paper; two or three words were quite enough to record a consultation. When mobile phones came in they were very large, heavy and so expensive that we could only afford one for the on-call doctor. How things have changed!
What has not changed is the satisfaction of doing one’s best for every patient who comes through the door, and the passage of time has meant that I am now treating the children and grandchildren of people I first met in the 1980s. This feeling of continuity is what general practice is really all about and is a great joy. I have had the honour of looking after so many lovely families over the years.
My final year has of course been blighted by Covid-19, which has completely changed the way we work, and not really for the better. In terms of the use of technology and remote consultations I think ten years’ worth of change has been compressed into the last ten months. So it is with mixed feelings that I approach retirement, but I am actually more certain now that this is the right time.
I will miss the many charming and grateful patients I have known over the years, and above all the wonderful staff and colleagues who have made working at Ivy Grove Surgery such a joy. In compensation we will have more time to enjoy with our two young grandsons who live in London and I certainly have plenty of hobbies and interests to occupy my time, so do not expect to be bored.
Farewell, and my very best wishes to everyone.
Dr Tony Wordley
We are sure that there will be very many of you who have been looked after, helped and supported by Dr Wordley over the years, so if any of you would like to send him your good wishes on his retirement, we have set up an online form which you can access by clicking the link below.
In ordinary times, we would be having a book on the front desk for patients to write in and sign, however, clearly this is not possible during a global pandemic, so we have to be a bit creative about how we do this, so please do bear with us.
We will print out all the messages you send and present them to Dr Wordley on his retirement.
For any patients you know who do not have internet access, please feel free to tell them to send messages to us via our letterbox - we will make sure he gets them.
PS. Even when this news update has been archived, you can read Dr Wordley's message and send him wishes by visiting our Dr Wordley page as below:
As we enter 2021, we hope that the covid vaccination programme will help to bring about an end to what has been a truly awful year in our lives, But this cannot be achieved working in isolation - we hope that each and every one of you will do all you can to defeat this virus. If you can all keep and achieve this New Year's resolution then the reward will be a return to some sort of normality.
Take care as always
We do our best to keep our patients informed of latest developments at Ivy Grove, and feel that within the coronavirus pandemic, this has become even more important. We spend our own time co-ordinating efforts and writing these updates, so it would be nice to know if you find these updates useful? Do you want us to carry on with them? We welcome feedback on this, so please do get in touch.
For your information only, older update(s) appear below:
Written by Dr M. Wong
© Dr Michael Wong 2021