Hello from all the team here at Burn Brae Medical Group during the Coronavirus pandemic.

We would like to share a few key messages with you.

Firstly, we would like to say thank you for the support you have shown us during these challenging times. We have rapidly had to make huge changes to the way we work, and we are grateful for the support you have shown to keyworkers, and your understanding as we adapt the way that we do things.

Please remember, if you do develop any symptoms of coronavirus (a new cough, high fever, a loss of taste or smell), please stay at home. If you need advice, contact 111 online or by phone. Please arrange to have a Covid-19 test even if you have mild symptoms as this will help us to monitor and track the virus.

More detailed and up to date information, including how to arrange a test, can be found at https://www.gov.uk/coronavirus.

If you or your family need urgent medical attention please do not wait, the NHS still wants to hear from you. Please call 999 in an emergency, such as a suspected heart attack or stroke, or a significant injury.
For less urgent concerns, please contact the surgery by phone. To protect our staff and patients, we are now speaking to all patients by phone initially, and we can then arrange a video consultation or face to face assessment in a safe manner if necessary. Further information about worrying symptoms that might indicate cancer can be found here.

We appreciate that lockdown has been a very challenging time for many people, and we are only too aware of the impact that this can have on your mental health. For more information and support, here is a link to some excellent resources and there is more information and phone numbers elsewhere on our website.

However, please do get in touch if you are struggling, and would like to speak to a GP.

On this page we have further information about a range of services that we continue to offer - such as immunisations, child health, smear tests and contraception and chronic disease management. This information will be updated regularly as we move through the pandemic.

Finally, we hope that you and your families stay safe and well – and thank you again for helping us to help you.

Best wishes from all the team at Burn Brae Medical Group.

If you do not wear a face covering when using public transport, when visiting a healthcare premises or, from 24 July, when in a shop or supermarket, staff may approach and ask why you are not wearing one. If you, or the person you care for are unable to wear a face covering because of the reasons listed below then you will not get in trouble but may need to explain that this is the reason why.

  • Find it difficult to put on, wear or remove a face covering because of a physical or mental illness or impairment, or disability
  • Find putting on, wearing or removing a face covering will cause you severe distress
  • Are travelling with or providing assistance to someone who relies on lip reading to communicate
  • All those under 11 don't have to wear a face covering in shops and supermarkets from 24 July.

There is currently no requirement to obtain evidence in the form of a letter from a doctor or government that you are exempt.

If you have a condition which means you cannot wear a face covering you need only advise if asked that you cannot wear a face covering because you are exempt for one of the reasons listed above.You do not need to prove to anyone that you are exempt, but if it would make you feel more confident in public there are many websites offering printable exemption cards or free.

If you need care from the practice, we are working differently, usually by phone and sometimes by video.

Alison phone consultation


These changes are designed to reduce the number of patients attending the surgery. This in turn reduces the chance of a patient passing on covid-19 to other patients or members of our team, and also helps to prevent the possible transmission of the virus from members of our team to patients.

We are also making extensive use of text messaging to provide information and advice, often with web links for further information. We can use text messaging to start a video consultation and to receive photographs that you can send us securely – so if you have a rash for example your GP can take a look without you necessarily having to attend for a face to face appointment.

If you speak to a GP and they decide that you need to be seen face to face for an examination then they will arrange for you to come in.

We know that some patients will be wary of coming here for essential blood tests for example. Our aim is to keep the Practice a safe place to come. We have a variety of measures in place to achieve this, such as enhanced cleaning. For some patients we may arrange a home visit, for others we can offer in-car assessments.

For all patients you will notice that our clinical team are wearing full PPE during your consultation.

Finally, if you do attend the surgery please follow the signage around the building and the instructions of staff. Handwashing facilities are available at the entrance and very few people will be in the waiting room at any one time. We are also encouraging patients to wait outside the building in the fresh air where possible.

All of the measures that we are taking are aimed at protecting our patients and our team and are under constant review as the situation changes.

You may have experienced significant anxiety during lockdown, from fear of infection, loneliness and isolation, especially those who have been shielding. We have been working throughout this period offering advice to patients by telephone and we see this as the best way of providing routine appointments over the coming months. We have also been providing blood testing and vaccination in a safe way at the Practice and this will continue. The main message for our diabetic patients is that we are open and can help if you have any problems. Just phone us on 01434 603627.

Research has shown that poorly controlled Diabetic HbA1c and Blood Pressure increases the risk of mortality with covid-19 as well as increased risk of microvascular complications. The table below summarises the risks raised HbA1c or blood Pressure.

 

Red Zone

Amber Zone

Green Zone

HbA1c mmol/mol

Over 86

60-86

Under 60

Blood Pressure

160/100 or above

141/81 to 159/99

Under 140/80

HbA1c is the most modifiable risk we can reduce with lifestyle or medication changes.

Symptoms of hyperglycaemia such as lethargy, thirst, thrush and frequency of passing urine may indicate your blood glucose is raised and it is important to phone the surgery and speak to a Practice Nurse or GP.

We have found during lockdown that many patients have not been as active and eating more snacks or baking, so blood glucose levels have risen and weight gained so treatment may need adjusting. Sometimes patients who have been shielding haven’t been able to get to the shops and are eating less or different foods and suffered from hypos with blood glucose levels less than 4 so we may need to reduce medication or insulin.

If you would like a meal planner then look no further than the Diabetes UK website. They have 7 day meal planners for a range of people such as families, vegetarians and even truckers!

We still have access to our dietician, Claire, and she is providing telephone consultations. If you wish to make contact with her please call us and speak to a receptionist.

We are also concerned about foot health and the short video below is really worth watching.

Louise and Alison are reviewing lists of patients who are due to be reviewed each month and they are phoning patients to check how they are doing and reviewing any home readings and we are also offering blood testing appointments.  Many patients now have their own blood pressure machines and we would really encourage patients to buy their own if possible

It will be some time before eye screening can return to the Practice though you may be contacted to visit another location.

Please be assured that if you come to the Practice for a blood test we have put measures in place to make this safe for you and particularly when there are low levels of covid locally we would encourage you not to delay your blood tests.

As a practice, we are aware that during the Coronavirus pandemic, fewer patients are presenting to us with symptoms that may suggest a diagnosis of cancer. This is clearly very concerning for us, as early diagnosis and treatment of cancer is crucial. We understand that you may feel worried about ‘bothering us’ or having to go to the surgery or hospital and potentially being exposed to coronavirus.

However, please be assured we still want to hear from you, we are available, and there is plenty of work we can do by telephone. There are tests and referrals that can be arranged safely. And we can still refer all patients with suspected cancer for urgent review within a 2 week time frame.

Here is a list of some of the common ‘red flag’ symptoms that could indicate cancer. This is by no means exhaustive and if you have a feeling that something ‘just isn’t right’, we would definitely like to hear from you.
• A persistent cough or hoarseness
• A new lump anywhere e.g. in the breast, testicle or neck
• Unexplained bleeding e.g. in the bowel motions, urine or vaginal
• Difficulty swallowing or persistent indigestion symptoms
• A persistent change in your bowels or bloating
• A new mole or a mole that changes
• Unexplained weight loss or sweats at night
• Unexplained pain e.g. in your tummy or back or headaches
• A sore on the skin or in the mouth that does not heal

Further information about symptoms and what to do, can be found here and here

Please note that our cervical screening program is still running, so please phone and book your smear test if it is due, or ask to speak to a practice nurse if you are unsure how to proceed. There is lots of useful information here.

The bowel cancer screening program has recently re-started. This is a simple test that you can do at home, so we would strongly encourage you to take part and return your samples. Further information can be found here and the free bowel cancer screening helpline number is 0800 707 6060. Please contact your GP promptly if you think you have symptoms of bowel cancer.

Whilst coronavirus is infectious to children it is rarely serious. If your child is unwell it is likely to be a non-coronavirus illness, rather than coronavirus itself. It can be confusing to know what to do when your child is unwell or injured. Remember that NHS 111, GPs and hospitals are still providing the same safe care that they have always done. Attached is a comprehensive leaflet that we recommend which is useful at any time, along with a poster summarising the advice to parents during coronavirus.

We continue to prioritise routine childhood immunisations, from 8 weeks up to and including vaccines due at one year of age including first MMR and hepatitis B and BCG for at risk infants.  Equally the newborn baby screening checks and post-natal review are continuing. Attached to this article is an FAQ document that hopefully answers any questions or concerns you may have. 

As a Practice we have set aside time in the day where pregnant women and mothers with babies will be seen. Rest assured you will not encounter a waiting room full of people. 

If you have an older child and you're worried about their mental health, see the article below about Kooth.

Talking Matters Northumberland offers a free psychological treatment, support and recovery service for the people of Northumberland over the age of 16 for depression, anxiety, stress and other mental health related problems. You can self-refer to their service but please note that at the present time they only offer telephone-based services and no face-to-face appointments.

If you are in crisis then the Crisis Team can be contacted 24/7 on 0303 1231146.

There are also other organisations available to help - see the attached leaflet.

Kooth is now available in Northumberland.  Kooth is a digital package of mental health support for Children and Young people (C&YP) aged between 11 and 25. It is a free, confidential and anonymous online support and counselling service which includes self- help resources, magazine articles, links to crisis support, safeguarded and monitored live drop-in sessions and also 1-1 scheduled counselling with qualified professionals. CY&P can receive up to six sessions of counselling support from Kooth. The service is accessible through any device with internet access, including; laptop, smart phone, or tablet and patients can self-refer.

We are still providing a full range of contraceptive services, including LARCS (coils, implants and injections) and contraceptive pills. We also provide emergency contraception.

If you would like to discuss any aspect of contraception please arrange a telephone appointment.

We are also able to offer sexual health screening and provide condoms for individuals aged 25 or under.

Cervical screening (a smear test) checks the health of your cervix. It’s not a test for cancer; it’s a test to help prevent cancer. All women and people with a cervix aged 25 to 64 should be invited by letter. If you would like to book an appointment for a cervical screen please call the surgery. Try not to put off cervical screening. Its one of the best ways to protect yourself from cervical cancer.