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Haughton Thornley Medical Centres - GP services for Hyde and Denton

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0161-336-3005
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Guardian Article - Patients need access and understanding of their electronic health records Royal College of General Practitioners
 

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Know about Ebola and overcome the fear with knowledge and understanding


Hardly a moment goes by without a news item about Ebola. Most of it is in far flung parts of the world - In Africa but some cases have now come back to Europe (the UK and Spain) and America. Currently there is no evidence of person to person spread in the UK but this could change given the warnings by the World Health Organisation. You may now be wondering what can you do for your loved ones and what is Haughton Thornley Medical Centres doing to support patients and the public?

Firstly, let's be clear. There is no need to panic. Ebola is not something new - it has been around for decades and there is a great deal of expertise and knowledge available on how to deal with this infection and what precautions we need to take. Public Health England and Tameside & Glossop CCG are in constant contact with the practices locally to inform us about the latest information and what advice we need to follow. Having a highly developed National Health Service with constant surveillance and access to some of the top experts in the world means we are as best prepared as can be to meet any challenges and to keep abreast with developments as they change. Haughton Thornley Medical Centres learned from the Swine Flu experience a few years ago and gained vital insights into how to manage patients flows and keep people informed and help to prevent a crisis. We will apply that same knowledge to help us all get through this too. We simply ask you to follow some simple instructions on what to do:

Know who is at risk of getting Ebola. Currently people at risk are those who have been in areas where the outbreak is happening in Africa - Guinea, Liberia, Sierra Leone. The WHO has widened the number of countries considered to be at risk. This is likely to grow so keep up-to-date with the latest information by clicking on the link. (Conversely if you have not travelled to these countries then you are not considered at risk. These symptoms are similar to the flu / viral infections that we all can get. If you ring the surgery for advice then our staff will check you have not returned from a high risk country). 
What are the symptoms of Ebola. Typical symptoms include fever, headache, joint and muscle pain, sore throat and intense muscle pain. These symptoms start between 2 and 21 days after getting infected but usually 5-7 days after. If you start with these symptoms and have returned from a high risk country within 21 days then you may be at risk.  You should phone 111 or 999 to get advice on what to do in this case.
How does Ebola spread. Ebola spreads by contact with blood, body fluids or organs of an infected person. Most people are infected by caring for somebody with Ebola either by touching the victim's body or by cleaning up body fluids (stools, urine or vomit). Simply washing hands with soap and water can destroy the virus. Clinicians are trained to use simple hygiene techniques which safeguard us from spreading the virus. Currently there is no need for our staff to use protective gowns, face masks etc. We will however remain diligent in case the advice changes.
The risk of getting ebola in this country remains low. It is not easily transmitted. It is only infectious when symptoms start. Effective infection control procedures are in place. Training and awareness has been in place. 

So what is Haughton Thornley Medical Centres doing and what can you do now to stay safe?  

Be aware what to do to prevent minor ailments and how to treat them. These cause much more problems and affect us all. See the top 50 things people come to the GP with and which you can solve now without needing to wait for the doctor or nurse. Simple when you know how! (The link is also on the landing page under COMMON PROBLEMS near the bottom and in the centre). Do you really want to come to the surgery and risk getting a viral infection because somebody coughs over you if you can stay at home and mange yourself safely. Please make sure you have stocked up on common treatments that you may need over the winter such as paracetamol, co-codamol, ibuprofen etc. The chemist will be able to advise you on what things you may need.

Get the flu injection if you qualify for it. If you are at risk of the complications of flu then please make sure you have had your flu injection. We have a couple more flu injection clinics left. Please make sure you attend if you need the flu injection. It's for your benefit and only you can decide if you want it. Why take the risk especially if the symptoms of Ebola are similar to flu? Reduce your fears and get the flu injection. (Please note - the flu injection does not prevent Ebola though)

Get Access to your Records And Understanding too. This is the first step to becoming engaged and activated. By seeing what advice your doctor or nurse has provided you in the past, you can help predict problems in the future, what advice worked for you last time so that you can follow it next time, see what has been agreed when you spoke on the phone or in person and be able to monitor letters or test results that come back so that you can work with your clinician to come to a common understanding of what has been agreed and what to do next. Make sure your whole family has signed up and then ask your friends other neighbours to sign up too. Remember, once you sign up, we also send you emails to inform you about the latest developments. If we think it is important we will publish it on the website and send an email out to inform you too. Over 3300 patients are already benefiting from this service and we want many more to.

Using Instant Medical History to ask patients to complete structured online questionnaires about your condition. Headaches, sore throat and aches and pains are common symptoms. The majority will be for reasons other than Ebola. We can invite you to complete an online questionnaire so that we can find out more about your symptoms before we see you. Whilst we are still developing this, we could easily activate this to manage demand better and ensure those who need to contact us can do so more quickly if you complete a questionnaire. We will ask you for your email address to send you a questionnaire. Your responses will come back to the practice as a medical history which is attached to your medical record. The clinician will then be able to see this, talk to you and then provide further advice including what to do next which will be added to your electronic health record. You can see all this by accessing your records online without having to come to the surgery. Only those patients that the doctor or nurse need to see will be asked to come.  

Please contact the surgery if you have any concerns about your health. We are here to help you and will try our hardest to reach out to as many people as possible. We know it is not always easy to get an appointment to see us but if we all work together and support each other then we can get through this and ensure everybody enjoys great healthcare. You can also see resources on the practice website (see to the left and to the right here), check emails we send or make friends on Facebook or Twitter,  phone 111, go to the Walk-in Centre or contact the Out of Hours service too. 

Please contact the PPG at Haughton Vale surgery or Thornley House. They are the patient voice and keen to ensure the practice continues to deliver a quality, safe service using the limited resources we have to support your needs.

External Websites

For further information on Ebola, please see NHS Choices and the Public Health England websites. 

Expert Interview: Is Ebola a risk to the UK Q & A from Public Health England. Clearing up the confusion

How does Ebola virus compare with other viruses in relation to infectiousness and deadliness?. Click here to see the graph below in more detail.

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