Issue 151    December 1st   to March 1st 2022

Hungerford Surgery Patient Participation Group

The PPG continues in its aim of enhancing communication between Hungerford Surgery and its patients and helping the improvement of services.

As I write this, we have just seen the highest levels of COVID-19 in West Berkshire since the start of the pandemic. No doubt the false negative results from one of the labs that serve our area has not helped.

It is now clear from the experience of the last 18 months that the majority of transmission occurs in the home, and as we pass more time indoors during the winter this represents an increased risk.

A recently published study in The Lancet Infectious Diseases has shown that fully vaccinated people can contract and pass on COVID-19 in the home. People who received two doses of vaccine have a lower, but still appreciable, risk of becoming infected with the delta variant with people who are unvaccinated. Vaccination also reduces the risk of severe illness, hospitalisation and death from COVID-19. The analysis found that around 25% of vaccinated household contacts tested positive for COVID-19 compared with roughly 38% of unvaccinated household contacts.

Fully vaccinated people cleared the infection more quickly than those who are unvaccinated, but their peak viral load – the greatest amount of SARS-CoV-2 virus found in their nose and throat – was similar to unvaccinated people, which may explain why they can still readily pass on the virus in the home.

Despite transmission between vaccinated people being possible, the researchers say it is essential that people who are unvaccinated, and those eligible for boosters, get vaccinated against COVID-19 to protect themselves from severe disease and hospitalisation. So please take up the offer when eligible.

As we know, we are going to have to live with this virus for the foreseeable future. Please continue to act responsibly as you have been doing; it really does make a difference. Wear a face mask outside your home when indoors, particularly where there are many other people; take advantage of the free lateral flow tests; and self-isolate if you have been in contact with someone who has tested positive.

Hands-Face-Space. Managing this pandemic is down to each and every one of us and how we behave.

At our recent PPG Committee Meeting we were shown the data that shows that our surgery is dealing with a significantly increased demand, with levels sometimes 20% above pre-COVID levels.

The surgery want to stress that they are managing this workload through a system of triage, to ensure each patient sees the right healthcare professional as soon as appropriate. We now have access to a Pharmacist, a Social Prescriber and a Pharmacy Technician, and in the near future a First Response Physiotherapist and a Mental Health Practitioner. These specialists will be able to deal with certain medical issues more appropriately than a GP.

However, all patients are still able to see a GP face-to-face if required. Over 65% of appointments are still face to face (above national and local averages), even though we are one GP down (as I write this).

Please ensure when speaking the staff on the phone that you help them direct you to the right healthcare professional, by answering their questions clearly.

As always, we are interested in feedback from patients. Any questions or queries or matters to raise with the PPG. Please email or leave a note at the Reception Desk.