New patient pathway to streamline COVID-19 assessments and free up hospital resources
New dedicated Community Assessment Centres (CACs) are this week opening across Greater Glasgow and Clyde to help combat COVID-19 by providing a more streamlined service to assess people presenting symptoms.
The appointment only hubs form part of a new pathway which will maximise the number of COVID-19 symptomatic people who can be cared for within the community, while also ensuring hospital capacity is used for those with the most serious illnesses. The pathway will also reduce the exposure of patients at GP surgeries and allow GPs to focus on providing care to patients with other complex health issues.
As part of the new pathway, patients should no longer phone their GPs if they are experiencing COVID-19 symptoms but refer to NHS Inform, or contact NHS 24 (111) if their symptoms worsen.
If further clinical advice is required, NHS 24 will refer patients onto a clinician who will provide a full telephone assessment and if necessary, an appointment at the patient’s nearest CAC. Patients may still be referred directly to acute services, depending on their symptoms.
A central CAC has opened on Barr Street in Glasgow – operational from 8am-10pm with a view to moving to 24/7 when necessary. Additional centres in Greenock (Greenock Health Centre) and Clydebank (Clydebank Health Centre) will soon follow alongside other areas within Greater Glasgow and Clyde.
Opened solely to assess patients presenting symptoms, the centres are staffed by GPs and Advanced Nurse Practitioners. Patients attending will receive treatment plans, including medication, and/or prescription, and be told to self-isolate. If they need to go to hospital, this will be arranged at the centre. Patient transport and a Home Visiting service are also being developed to support those with difficulties travelling.
The CACs will not provide testing facilities.
Additionally, the community pharmacy Minor Ailment Service has been extended to allow anyone registered with a GP practice, who has a minor illness or a common condition, to speak to a member of the pharmacy team for advice and treatment, without the need to see their GP. It is important that people do not stockpile their prescribed medication and just order as needed from their GP Practices and Community Pharmacies. Some Community Pharmacies have altered their opening hours.
Dr Kerri Neylon, Deputy Medical Director for Primary Care at NHSGGC, said:
“The creation of the CACs will provide important protection for vulnerable patients who require non- COVID-19 related care and will support our 235 GP Practices to provide this, by ensuring those who can be treated within the community receive the appropriate care as efficiently as possible.
“In anticipation of increasing case numbers, we now have a pathway which can be effectively scaled up to manage growing demand on services across Greater Glasgow and Clyde. I'd like to thank all staff across primary, community, and acute services, for their efforts in rapidly implementing this new pathway and for readily staffing the centres.
“We remind patients they should only phone NHS 24 if their symptoms worsen, and that the centres are strictly appointment only. If NHS 24 believes you need further treatment, you will get an appointment with one of our clinicians.”