Open letter to all Sheffield Residents

As you may have heard on the news or read online, there are currently
unprecedented pressures across our health services in Sheffield. This is in common
with most areas of the country and is leading to huge levels of demand for GP
services.

You may have struggled to get in touch with your GP practice recently or had to wait
for an appointment. We understand that this can be frustrating, especially if you are
feeling ill. This has sometimes led to the misperception that practices are not seeing
many patients. We want to reassure you that practices are doing all they can to get
through to and see as many patients as possible.

Surgeries in Sheffield have worked incredibly hard to provide services throughout the
COVID-19 crisis and continue to do so. We are very proud of how practice staff have
responded to these challenges to care for you. This is at the same time as giving
382,510 people, two doses of the lifesaving covid vaccination since December.

For everyone’s safety and to ensure we continue to provide care, the way we
respond to patients has had to change during the pandemic. England is still in the
middle of a pandemic with very high rates of covid which are increasing in Sheffield
day by day.

At the current time, our practice teams are working hard to protect patients and their
staff from the deadly COVID-19 virus and stop the spread.

Many more video and telephone consultations are taking place to protect everyone
and prioritise those most in need. We know many patients like not having to attend
their surgery in person when the problem can be safely dealt with remotely. Not only
do most patients like telephone and online appointments, but they also stop covid
from spreading and staff can get through to more patients, including those with
urgent health needs.

For these reasons, we see fewer patients face-to-face, but if you are assessed as
needing a face-to-face appointment or if you request one you will still have one
although you may have to wait a bit longer in some cases.
We want everyone to understand that we’re busy and what we’re doing in Sheffield
to improve access. We also need your support to help us and help yourselves.

What we’re doing
GP surgeries are working hard to cope with the additional demand which includes
bringing in more staff in different professional roles to help. Extra funding and
support are also being shared across South Yorkshire to make even more
appointments available.

NHS Sheffield CCG has invested in more evening and weekend appointments at
extended access hubs across the City and are investing more in technology to
improve communication and efficiency.

The CCG are also offering support to individual practices who may be struggling with
staffing shortages or other problems to help them to continue to provide services.

Help us to help you
The public has given incredible support to the NHS during the pandemic but it’s not
over yet and we still need your help.

When you’re unwell, A&E can seem like the quickest solution, but that’s not always
the case. Only go to A&E or call 999 in an emergency life threatening situation. If
your issue isn’t an emergency, there’s are more appropriate services for you to
choose from:

• GP Hubs, which are open outside of your usual GP opening times
• The Minor Injuries Unit
• The Walk-in Centre

A trip to the pharmacist can also get you the same high level of care, but more
quickly. Your local pharmacist can help and advice on the best treatment, they can
also help you decide whether you need to see a doctor.

If you need to see a GP when your practice is closed, you can access the GP out of
hours service known as GP Hubs. There are a range of NHS urgent and routine
healthcare services available on weekday evenings and at weekends through hubs
across Sheffield that are open 365 days a year. You can book appointments for
these services through your usual GP practice or by contacting NHS 111 when your
GP practice is closed.

If you have any symptoms of COVID-19, please don’t visit a surgery or pharmacy
without first taking a test, using the information here.

While we know being poorly or injured can be stressful and concerning for patients
and their families, please be kind to practice staff. We ask you to treat your doctors,
their staff, and other visitors courteously and act reasonably at all times.

Thank you for your continuing support, from Sheffield’s Primary Care Clinical
Leaders