The future of healthcare in Merton: Your questions answered by Doc Merton.
As Merton emerges from lockdown, with shops, pubs and even hairdressers opening for business, the message from local GPs is that we’re here for you – as we have been through-out the crisis. Simply call your practice in the normal way or phone 111.
To help explain more about what’s happening with healthcare in Merton, here are a few questions I often get asked.
Are GP surgeries in Merton open?
When the UK entered lockdown on 23rd March, access to healthcare changed. To keep people safe we needed to shift most of our consultations to remote ones – giving advice by phone, email and video calls and introducing a triage system to decide who we should see face-to-face. So, while the doors may have been closed, GP surgeries have been, and still are, very much open.
How have consultations changed?
Covid-19 hasn’t gone away, and GP practices are still operating a little differently – you still can’t walk in to your local surgery or book online and we’re still offering remote consultations, where it’s appropriate. If you do visit us, you’ll need to wear a face covering and we’ll be kitted out in PPE. This is to ensure protection for both our staff and you, the patient.
What should I do if I have a health concern?
The important message is don’t wait to seek help. Ignoring problems can have serious consequences – now or in the future. Contact your GP on the normal practice number or call 111. Most GP surgeries offer remote consultations where you can fill in an online form or speak to someone by video call or phone about a health issue.
Won’t I be putting pressure on services if I contact my GP or visit A&E?
We know some of you have been staying away because of worries you’ll overburden the NHS – we can assure you this really isn’t the case. Others may be concerned about the risk of infection. Again, we’d like you to know that local healthcare settings have put measures in place to separate non-covid patients from those who have, or suspect they might have, the infection.
A worrying aspect of the covid-19 crisis was a big decrease in people contacting health services – at the peak of the crisis, local A&E departments were seeing roughly half the numbers attending the previous month. Fewer people were coming to see us about cancer symptoms, making it harder for us to pick up early signs of the disease.
Should I still attend routine appointments at the moment?
Yes – we want people to continue to attend vital appointments, including for cancer screening, childhood immunisations and antenatal checks. Contact your practice first for advice if you’re not sure.
You can find out more about local health services by joining one of our free monthly online webinars. These are being delivered collaboratively with Merton organisations to support our community.
The NHS is open and available for patients who need care or treatment. GPs are the front-line of the NHS and often the first port of call when you are unwell.
If you are concerned about covid-19, please follow the latest NHS advice.
Written By: Dr Mohan Sekeram (Doc Merton)
12 years of experience as GP in Merton, working for Merton Borough Committee. Mohan is also the clinical lead for social prescribing in Merton and Wandsworth.