In June 2021, more than 346,000 appointments were provided by Oxfordshire GPs. Approximately half of these were face-to-face, with the remainder being video and phone consultations. More than 160,000 of these appointments took place on the same day the patient made contact, compared with 115,000 for June 2019.
This is more than a 15% increase in all GP appointments since before the pandemic began (comparing June 2019 data = 300k appts) and there has also been a significant increase in demand across all urgent and emergency care services.
Dr Ed Capo Bianco, Urgent Care Lead at Oxfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group, said: “If you feel that you need medical advice or treatment there are lots of options available. You can get advice from 111 online as well as your local community pharmacy, and many GP practices also online help and support where you can send your query to your practice via their website.”
“When you contact your GP practice either on the phone or online, you will be asked to provide some information about your healthcare needs. This helps the practice’s clinical team assess the most appropriate way to provide your care, which may be a face-to-face consultation provided by the most appropriate person.
“Face-to-face appointments in general practice and in our hospitals are available to patients where there is a clinical need. This means that a doctor, nurse, or healthcare professional will consider the urgency of the appointment, the vulnerability of the patient and whether they need further examination or tests.
“We also want to make sure that people who need our help are assessed initially in the most appropriate setting which could be with a clinical expert over the phone, online or in their own home.”
Local pharmacists are also qualified healthcare professionals and can offer a fast and convenient clinical service for minor illnesses, with no need for an appointment, and the use of a confidential consultation room if needed.
Pharmacists offer clinical advice and over-the-counter medicines to manage a range of minor illnesses effectively and safely such as colds, sore throats, earaches, itchy eyes, tummy troubles, bites and stings, aches and pains, and many more. If symptoms suggest it’s something more serious, pharmacists have the right clinical training to ensure people get the help they need immediately and can refer patients to a GP or A&E where necessary.
However, if you have a new continuous cough, high temperature, or loss or change to your sense of taste or smell then you might have coronavirus (COVID-19) so it is important not to visit a healthcare setting – instead you should self-isolate immediately and get a PCR test.
For urgent issues or out of hours, you can also call the NHS on 111 or go online to seek NHS advice. If appropriate, NHS 111 can give you a timeslot to see a doctor or nurse. NHS 111 can also put you in touch with mental health services and book appointments into Minor Injury Units.
NHS Oxfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group (OCCG) is the statutory organisation in Oxfordshire that plans, buys and oversees health services for more than 770,000 people from a range of NHS, voluntary, community and private sector providers.
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Published: 1 October 2021