A GP SURGERY in Penarth has offered an insight into what their work has been like during the coronavirus pandemic – and the subsequent vaccine rollout which is currently taking place.

Before the pandemic, patients could ring Albert Road Surgery reception in Penarth, say they needed an appointment, and it would all be booked in and they would turn up for their appointment time.

However, once coronavirus hit the UK, because of the need to be socially distanced, everything went on the telephones. Part of their new multi-disciplinary model is still in place - where not just GPs are working under the same roof, but pharmacists and physios too. But rather than them coming to the surgery initially, it is via telephone.

Penarth Times: Dr Kristina Leppik, Dr Quarratul-Ain Yousef, Mrs Kerry Anne-CarterDr Kristina Leppik, Dr Quarratul-Ain Yousef, Mrs Kerry Anne-Carter

If it is apparent from the call that they need to come in for a face-to-face, that will be organised. Those that are called in, must follow a one-way-system through the surgery and will have their temperature taken upon arrival.

Dr Kristina Leppik, who works at the surgery, said she was apprehensive about this new way of working at first, wondering if GPs would be able to assess patients properly over the phone. But due to prior training in telephone consultations, the transition was smooth and easier than initially thought.

On Monday, December 14, work began on rolling out the Oxford/AZ vaccine in the area to patients over 80. Staff had to make sure that everyone was ready and prepared for this important task, and even took into consideration those that have worries about entering a GP now.

Penarth Times:

Dr Quarratul-Ain Yousef, who moved to the area from Birmingham not long before lockdown began, said the staff have been “quite proactive in trying to adapt” by creating an outside pod with a clear shelter – which cannot be seen through easily - where people coming in for a vaccine or routine B12 jab can have it done rather than going inside if they choose. 

“We’ve reduced risk to our staff, the patients coming in, and reduced risks to patients.

“The initial reason for the shelter was because we thought, well, winter is coming, and people are going to have coughs.

“We might need to listen to them, and instead of bringing them in, how do we assess such a high risk in a safe and confidential manner?

Penarth Times:

“We give them the option, and most people have been fine. And it’s been quite nice to feel a bit more relaxed because it’s an open environment”.

As soon as the staff are aware of the amount of stock that they will be getting from the health board, they can organise the clinics.

“We have to factor in the spacing, it’s a new vaccine so people might have questions which we are always happy to answer.

“So far it’s going pretty well. We are quite ahead of the game.

“I’m quite pleased with the surgery’s managing with the vaccines. Obviously, it is a new system, but we’re always up for a challenge and I think we make a really good team.

“So much is going on in the practice to give good care and attention to detail. We’re constantly looking at ways to improve things”.

Penarth Times:

Mrs Kerry Anne-Carter, assistant practice manager at Albert Road Surgery said “we’re definitely on schedule” with the over 80s patients and are hoping to finish vaccinating the age group by the end of this week.

The surgery is also in the midst of getting some extra phone lines installed, due to the sheer number of calls coming in and out.

Penarth Times:

There is a policy in place whereby those in a specific category will be contacted about having the vaccine, and staff advise people not to call asking to have one as it blocks the line for others with medical concerns.

Albert Road Surgery are also taking on new patients, you can either get a form from reception, apply online, or print off a form on the website.