GP PRACTICES across Dorset are helping to protect communities from the spread of COVID-19 by making changes to the way they work.

These changes are making the most of available technology and helping to protect both staff and patients, whilst at the same time allowing patients to access primary care services.

The most significant change will be asking people not to turn up at their GP practice without an appointment, but to contact the practice by phone or online via an eConsult form which is on all the practice websites.

Prescriptions are being sent electronically to pharmacies and Dorset Clinical Commissioning Group ask people not to request advance prescriptions or larger quantities as this is completely unnecessary – GPs are working as usual.

Dr Karen Kirkham, integrated care system clinical lead & assistant clinical chair, NHS Dorset Clinical Commissioning Group, said: “We recognise that this is a change for many people, however as everyone will be aware we are in a unique situation and the advice across the world is to reduce contact with others to help slow the impact of Covid-19.

“It is simple – by reducing personal contact with patients we can help slow the spread of the disease, help ease the pressure on services and save lives.”

Dr Forbes Watson, Chair of NHS Dorset CCG said “These are unprecedented times which are seeing all local partners working together incredibly hard in order that people can continue to receive healthcare across the county.

“I would like to reassure those registered with local practices that we are doing everything we can to continue to provide GP services whilst at the same time keeping our patients safe, in particular elderly patients and those with chronic disease.

“We are very proud of everyone working in primary care, and indeed across the whole health system, who continue to do so under extreme pressure, and we ask you to bear with us. The measures we have introduced and will introduce over the coming weeks will help you avoid needing to come into a surgery, and reduces the risk of infection to you, practice staff and your families.”

For advice on Coronavirus, including patients who have developed a new continuous cough and fever the advice is still to use 111 online or by telephone if you don’t have internet access.