COVID-19 response in the West
In these uncertain times, we wanted to get in touch to let you know how we are responding to the COVID-19 situation locally, to offer assurance about how much has happened already, and to ask for your help in communicating with our local population.
For some time now, as you will be aware, the focus of our collective efforts has been to bring together health and social care providers across the West with a shared purpose, which is to provide local compassionate care and build trusted relationships with those we work with and for.
We would all have wished for better circumstances to see these efforts come to fruition.
Nonetheless, the current crisis has been the catalyst we needed to drive change – quickly, with minimum fuss and maximum co-operation. This is what has been achieved in recent days and weeks:
- Community co-ordination centre established in the Dolcoath council offices in Camborne – this brings together health, social care and the voluntary sector
- ONE integrated system – one referral route for community services, one triage system and one way of recording information
- GP practices have set up clinics to treat people with COVID-19 symptoms – these are separated physically from day to day practice appointments and have the equipment needed to protect staff and patients
- West escalation plan drafted – this describes how general practice will adapt to meet the rising demand that we anticipate in the coming weeks
- Communication routes – we are fortunate in the West in having established good working relationships with partner organisations, which are standing us in good stead now – there are multiple, frequent calls and video conferences making sure that each part of the system is connected to the other and we can quickly address and unblock operational issues.
We’d like your help and support in assuring our community that we are doing everything we can, in these unprecedented times, to plan for and respond to this situation. We need people to recognise that as demand grows, there may need to be changes in the way that support is given – for example telephone support replacing some home visits, or using staff skills in a different way so that the practitioner helping you might not be the one you are used to. As an example, we are working with colleagues in the voluntary sector on plans to support families and patients at home, including, where helpful, the supply of equipment to support basic care.
We are primarily concerned with continuing to provide high quality care, which we will need to do in a flexible and innovative way, should we get to a situation where staff numbers are dwindling and demand is rising.
As ever, if you have any worries or questions, or anything you feel might help, please don’t hesitate to get in touch.
With best wishes,
Dr Katrin Tunstall – Co-Clinical Director for Penwith Primary Care Network and Chair of PICF
Dr Matt Whiteley – Clinical Director and Chair of North Kerrier Reference Group
Dr Jim Tait – Clinical Director for South Kerrier & Isles of Scilly Primary Care Network
Dr Neil Walden – Clinical support to the West Integrated Care Area COVID-19 response