COVID 19 Coronavirus


Please do not enter the Health Centre if you have any COVID 19 symptoms

  • Shortness of breath
  • Cough
  • High temperature
  • Headache 

Patient information

Dear all patients

With the ongoing Covid pandemic and the negative press coverage regarding GP surgeries, the practice has felt it appropriate to provide an insight into the daily working of our GP practice.

The practice wishes to reassure patients that we have always been open throughout the pandemic, are still open and will remain open. The way the practice operates is different to how things were before and we understand from a patient point of view that this might be frustrating. The practice has had to develop new ways of dealing with an increased workload during the pandemic, including a Covid vaccination programme and a flu vaccination programme which included more patients than ever before. These programmes were delivered in the safest way possible to our most vulnerable patients and delivered whilst still continuing to provide GP medical services to our patients. The practice has embraced new technology and have offered video consultation and texting service during consultations where deemed appropriate. Reception staff have had to adapt to the new changes which have been made to ensure they are safe and the practice can continue to run a service for our patients.

Below details the daily tasks involved within the practice with daily totals for each task included

Our telephone lines handle on average 520 telephone calls per day

On an average week the practice deals with an average of 111 telephone triage calls for the GPs per day. Reception staff ask for an indication of your problem, this is not to be intrusive or ‘nosy’, but to allow them to direct your call to the most appropriate person i.e. GP, nurse, practice pharmacist. Reception staff are bound by confidentiality as all staff within the health centre are. The reason for this enquiry is that not all calls need dealt with by a GP for example a medication query would be better dealt with by the practice pharmacists working within the practice.

The practice on average provides 80 face to face appointments daily this includes GPs, practice nurse and treatment room appointments. The face to face appointments are delivered in a safe way to reduce the risk of Covid transmission. Patients are asked to wear a mask when attending for their appointments. The appointments are longer than before due to the cleaning required between patients. GPs will only bring a patient in for a face to face appointment if it is deemed clinically appropriate. PPE will be worn by all staff when dealing with the patient face to face. We need to reduce the number of patients in a waiting area where our most vulnerable patients are waiting to be seen. This is to protect them from the spread of the virus as they will be at a higher risk of catching the virus.

On top of this there are an average of 203 daily requests from patients for prescriptions, this is not the total items requested but the number of patient requests. Each repeat prescription item issued must be checked that it’s due, the correct item is issued that bloods or follow-up action isn’t needed all before the prescriptions are printed, signed and left for collection by your designated chemist. In total the practice deals with an average of 719 prescription item requests per day.

Admin Tasks

The GPs deal with an average of 169 blood test results per day. These blood tests need checked by a GP, filed into the patient’s records, any actions noted for example follow-up bloods, follow-up appointment or onward referral if needed to another speciality for example hospital.

The practice receives an average of 5 requests daily for medical certificates (sick notes). These are checked that they are due, recorded in the patients notes, signed by a GP and either posted or emailed to the patient as requested.

We receive an average of 6 requests daily for medical reports to be completed or copies of patient’s notes. The medical reports must be completed by a GP, printed, signed and posted to the relevant insurance company. Requests for copies of medical notes are checked for patient consent, printed for the relevant timeframe requested in the patient consent, checked by a GP and admin staff and left for collection by the patient or posted to the relevant solicitors as requested.

Therefore, in total the admin tasks as detailed above (on their own) total on average 383 daily.

On top of this, the GPs deal with home visit requests and out-of-hours notification from the previous night.

This is only a small reflection of the daily tasks but these are the most relatable to patients.

The GPs hope that this insight might help patients understand the working of a GP surgery. The telephone lines are busy and will remain busy. The telephone system has been upgraded during the pandemic to improve the quality of lines within the practice.

With this increased workload we still have to work with the same number of GPs and practice staff prior to the pandemic. We continue to give time to training GPs, medical and nursing students. Despite advertising nationally for more clinical staff, the regional shortage of GPs and nurses has made it difficult to recruit to our rural area.

As we move into a period of uncertain winter pressures and prepare for massive flu and Covid booster vaccination clinics we would appreciate patience from our patients.

We wish to assure you that we are doing the best we can with the resources we have. If you ring the health centre and get a dialling tone please hold on as this means you are in the queue. If you get an engaged tone the lines are busy and all staff are dealing with queries on these telephone lines. We have a zero tolerance policy against abuse and ask that you treat our staff with courtesy and respect. We have worked tirelessly throughout the pandemic and our staff are not immune from feeling hurt and upset when they receive verbal abuse for doing their job.

We always aim to provide a high standard of care to our patients and with your support and understanding we will continue to do so.

Thank you for taking the time to read,

GPs and staff of Irvinestown Health Centre




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