Chorley GP surgeries set up car park site for virus-suspected patients, as ALL Central Lancashire practices move to segregate possible Covid cases

Patients from almost a dozen doctors’ surgeries in Chorley will be sent to a temporary facility in a town centre car park, if they are displaying symptoms of coronavirus and need a face-to-face appointment with their GP.

Monday, 13th April 2020, 9:46 am

The makeshift centre is designed to see potential Covid-19 patients who are concerned about the virus itself - or any other complaint for which they need medical help.

However, local NHS bosses have stressed that the unit – which has been set up on the currently closed West Street car park - is not a drive-through testing centre to establish definitively whether somebody has coronavirus.

It is part of a Central Lancashire-wide attempt to reduce the spread of the disease by separating possible Covid-19 sufferers from virus-free patients and practice staff.

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Car park and cabins provide a place for patients with suspected coronavirus to be seen more safely

In Preston, South Ribble and other parts of Chorley, the plan involves groups of GP surgeries working together and reserving some of their buildings – or parts of them - only for those showing coronavirus symptoms.

Anybody contacting their own practice will be assessed over the phone and, based on their symptoms, will be told which location to attend if they need to be seen in person – which might not be their usual surgery.

But in central and eastern Chorley, 11 practices have instead established the dedicated cabin-based facility in the town centre, where all suspected Covid-19 patients will be seen – although not necessarily inside the buildings themselves.

“As much as possible, we will be keeping those patients out in the fresh air and staying a safe distance from them,” explained Dr. Lindsey Dickinson, a partner in the Chorley Surgery, one of the participating practices.

Dr.Lindsey Dickinson, chair of Chorley and South Ribble CCG

“There is a lot you can do as part of an examination without actually having to put your hands on a patient - but where they need to be seen more closely, we can take them into one of the cabins, which are fully set up as a consulting room, with their own toilet, washing facilities and beds.

“Once they have been seen, we might then send them back to their car and finish the consultation on the phone – just to try to minimise the risk to the clinician by limiting the amount of time we spend in the same space as the patient,” said Dr. Dickinson, who added that those staffing the new facilities will be kitted out with the necessary personal protective equipment (PPE).

The Post understands that the first patients are expected to be seen this week at the car park cabins – although with the pandemic having prompted more than 95 percent of consultations to be done by phone or video call at some Chorley surgeries, it is uncertain how busy the new units will be.

However, Dr. Dickinson – who is also chair of the Chorley and South Ribble clinical commissioning group (CCG) - believes that the new ways of working which have emerged in recent weeks will help ensure some level of normality in primary care in these exceptional times.

“We’re still doing all of our business-as--usual appointments, like baby vaccinations and other things where we have to see patients in person.

“But we’re also able to do lots of routine things remotely – for example, if a patent has a blood pressure monitor at home, they can still get their yearly review done, but it will be over the phone.

“The positive thing to come out of this is that it’s been really nice to see how well people can work together in a really difficult situation,” Dr. Dickinson said.

The coronavirus-related collaborations between GP surgeries across Central Lancashire are based on the footprints of nine existing primary care networks (PCNs) which were established as part of a nationwide programme last year.

WHICH SURGERIES IN CHORLEY ARE USING THE WEST STREET CORONAVIRUS HUB?

***Chorley Surgery

***Clayton Brook Surgery

***Coppull Medical Centre (Acreswood)

***Dr. Hamad (Preston Road)

***Drs. Rafi Baghdijan and Jacobs (Collinson Avenue)

***Euxton Medical Centre

***Granville House

***Library House

***Regent House

***Whittle Surgery

***Withnell Health Centre