The Marsh Medical practice serves more than 6,000 patients in rural Lincolnshire, across an area roughly the same size as the Isle of Man.
Dr Carl Deaney, who runs the practice, reacted early to ensure they had acquired adequate PPE and made significant changes to the way his surgery operated before the lockdown was imposed.
With a third of his patients being over the age of 65, and with many having underlying health conditions, he immediately recognised the very real threat the virus outbreak would pose to them and his staff.
Dr Deaney said: “The thing that’s given my team comfort is that we put in really strict measures from the get go. Our staff have told us that they feel very safe despite being on the front-line“.
“When we introduced measures to protect staff and patients, there may have been a slight raising of eyebrows, but we had to think outside the box and utilise readily available resources. The adaptations to our daily working practices have proved beneficial to protecting staff and patients and with hindsight we are pleased that we put these changes in place early.”
For patients such as seventy-six-year old Stephen, the response from his surgery has been comforting, despite the very stark warnings he has repeatedly been given.
He said: “As a cancer patient and with my age I’ve had people telling me on a daily basis how dangerous catching this virus would be for me.
“Yet I have to visit the surgery every day for an injection to treat a blood clot on my lung”.
“In the beginning it was very frightening. I feel okay about it now because when I go into the surgery all the nurses know me. They are very good at putting me at ease.
“When I arrive at the surgery my temperature is taken, just like everyone who visits, and I’m then directed to a safe area before I go in. Then when I’m in the waiting room, I’m in there alone.”
Stephen, who is a retired accountant for the NHS, said he is grateful to be able to maintain his daily routine with his doctor without being put at risk.
Dr Deaney added: “I would like to reassure everyone that we are all working extremely hard to keep our patients and staff safe and well as we get through this difficult time. We are contacting patients on the phone daily and making sure those who need shielding understand what that means”.
“It is concerning that some people continue to not take coronavirus seriously.
“We are still learning about this virus and trying to understand why some people who are young and healthy become critically ill, so everyone needs to take the recommended government precautions.
“There is also increasing concern that people with other urgent medical problems are not coming to GP surgeries or hospitals in good time. I want everyone to know we, and our colleagues across UK general practice, are here for you and are working to care for your health whilst keeping you safe”.