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Coronavirus / New advice on who to contact with Covid-19 symptoms

NHS BOARDS across Scotland have created local hubs and assessment centres to streamline the way coronavirus patients are being dealt with in a bid to ease the “unprecedented demand” on GP surgeries and the health service in general.

Anyone with Covid-19 symptoms should not call their GP, and instead they should either find the required information online at www.nhsinform.scot/coronavirus or call NHS24 on 111 for further guidance.

They should under no circumstances turn up at the Gilbert Bain’s A&E department with the expectation that they will be tested for coronavirus.

People calling NHS24 with Covid-19 symptoms will either receive help and advice following an initial telephone assessment or, if necessary, they will be transferred to a local, Shetland based, community hub.

The community hubs are up and running since Monday. Here medical staff will assess on the phone whether or not people will need to see a medical expert. If that becomes necessary an appointment at the local assessment centre will be made.

The local assessment centre will be based at the Gilbert Bain Hospital, but separate from other primary care patients. NHS Shetland chief executive Michael Dickson said patients needing Covid-19 assessment would enter the hospital through a different entrance.

The advice for assessment centres given by the NHS is as follows: “Please only arrive at the agreed time for your appointment. The community hub will advise you on how to access the assessment centre.

“Once you arrive, you will go to a waiting room, where you will either be by yourself, or a safe distance from other patients waiting in the room.

“You will then be seen by a clinician. They will likely be wearing a wearing a mask and gloves as a precaution, but this does not mean that you have Covid-19. You may be asked to wear a surgical facemask to help prevent spread of coughs and sneezes.

“They will assess you and your symptoms and create a treatment plan for you. If you need to go to hospital they will arrange this, otherwise you will be sent home with any medication you need (or a prescription) and your treatment plan.”

NHS Scotland advises that during GP practice opening hours, NHS24 on telephone 111 will focus solely on Covid-19 related inquiries. Any other health matter should be referred to local GPs.

Once GP surgeries are closed NHS24 will deal with Covid-19 and all other enquiries.

In addition, the community pharmacy minor ailment service is being 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.