Primary Care services in Wirral have been significantly impacted by the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, however, the response of NHS frontline staff has been incredible.
Since February, Primary Care Wirral (PCW) has worked with healthcare providers, local businesses and community groups to source Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), create additional facilities for Covid-19 care, facilitate community support and keep patients in the loop with the latest coronavirus information.
It has been an incredibly demanding period for all involved, and we want to take this opportunity to check in and update you on the work the PCW team have being doing to help patients and practices.
GP support for Arrowe Park Wuhan Patients
PCW was at the forefront of providing GP and healthcare staff support to one of the earliest instances of coronavirus public health responses at Arrowe Park Hospital.
Following the arrival of 83 UK residents from Wuhan at the Wirral hospital, PCW worked alongside Arrowe Park to assist with GP support for quarantined patients.
A multi-disciplinary team devised a Strategic Operational Plan (SOP) alongside healthcare staff from across the region, due to a complex range of patient requirements.
This included a patient in the latter stages of pregnancy, children and elderly people with existing medical conditions and medication requirements.
PCW General Practitioner Dr James Perry worked as part of the first response team at the hospital, and you can find out more about his experiences of a uniquely demanding environment via the British Medical Journal.
PCW has played a key role in establishing a Covid-19 testing co-ordination service in Wirral.
This provision has involved the creation of two collaborative teams focused on overall sample coordination and sample taking at patients homes.
The Covid-19 Sampling Coordination Team worked in coordination with relevant stakeholders to manage referrals to the service, organise appointment requests and patient flow, and ensure patients were informed of their results by PCW clinicians.
PCW nurses and GPs integrating the Covid-19 Home Sampling Team, visited symptomatic patients and undertook swabbing following PPE and sample taking training provided by PCW.
The federation worked in conjunction with the St. John’s Ambulance service to arrange transportation of healthcare staff and delivery of swab tests to the lab, and also provided protective equipment for clinicians.
Alongside this, PCW developed an education programme and learning resources for care homes which enabled nurses to take samples from their own residents.
Covid-19 Additional Capacity Hubs
As part of the continued planning to deal with the pandemic, PCW assisted with the creation of three Covid-19 Additional Capacity Hubs, to ensure symptomatic patients could receive primary care services.
With access to GP surgeries restricted, PCW has worked tirelessly to enable patients to receive face-to-face consultations.
Developed in conjunction with the Wirral Council, NHS Wirral CCG and local Primary Care Networks (PCNs), the hubs have provided a vital point of access to care and home visits for patients unable to attend the additional capacity centres.
The hubs are clinically lead by their respective PCNs and distributed across the PCW catchment area, including the Oval Leisure Centre, Victoria Central Primary Care Centre and West Wirral Group Practice.
PPE Coordination and Donations Campaign
With access to PPE supplies a consistent priority during the pandemic, PCW has centralised procurement of scarce and difficult to find items for member practices.
We have also created the Breathe Wirral campaign, focusing on sourcing potential donors and suppliers of equipment and sanitising products.
Donations from individuals, companies and independent PPE producers have been at the heart of Breath Wirral’s efforts to secure vital PPE for frontline NHS healthcare staff.
The team have managed contact with donors, sourced alternative streams of PPE and coordinated collection and delivery of items, to ensure the flow of supply lines to GP surgeries, Covid-19 hubs and testing teams.
New Respiratory Services
PCW is working to deliver new respiratory services to guarantee support and clinical interventions for vulnerable individuals, as practices reduce face-to-face contact due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The ‘COPD Enhanced Respiratory Tele-Consult Service’ is a new remote consultation facility designed to support practices during the Covid-19 outbreak.
The service includes a ‘COPD Therapy Review Service’, which provides practices across four local PCNs with full clinical reviews by Interface Clinical Pharmacists (CPs) specialising in telephone consultations.
Alongside this, appointed GPNs with respiratory backgrounds, have the opportunity to join the ‘Practice Nurse Respiratory Support Team’, a peer mentorship programme to enhance their clinical and tele-consultation skills.
This virtual nursing service will be led by a PCW Respiratory Nurse, who will upskill nurses to deal with acute respiratory situations and long-term condition management in light of potential Covid-19 pressures.
Social Media Support for Practices
As part of our continuing efforts to help across a wide spectrum of PCW services, we have provided essential social media management to practices during the Covid-19 outbreak.
With practice staff redeployed to other essential work, we have stepped in to provide social media updates and vital Covid-19 information to patients.
Consistent and digestible information has been vital during the pandemic, and our marketing and communications team have worked with seven practices and one PCN to ensure patients remain up to date with the latest guidelines and advice.
This has included the recirculation of national campaigns as well as tailored messages for the Wirral area.
This support program is ongoing and has so far seen a substantial growth of over 800-page followers on Facebook across all surgeries.