During April 2020 the decision was made at very short notice to relocate the Hurley Clinic (HCK) staff and function to our other Lambeth site, Riverside Medical Centre (RMC) in Vauxhall. RMC is located 0.9 miles away from the HCK and whilst both practices have shared systems, up until then they have both worked alongside each other providing general medical services from both sites. The decision to temporarily relocate services was made based on a number of pressing issues. Firstly, at the height of the rise in the peak of the Covid-19 pandemic it was sensible to pool staff resources to ensure that we could continue to deliver services to our patients. Secondly, to support the Covid-19 response in Lambeth, the North Lambeth Primary Care Network asked to use the premises at HCK for the provision of a ‘Hot Clinic’ to safely separate suspected Covid-19 patients from non-suspected Covid-19 patients. This enabled Hurley and Riverside patients, as well as other North Lambeth patients to continue receiving medical care in a safe environment, allowing for additional capacity at a stage in the pandemic when it was expected to escalate to an unknown level of possible cases. HCK was chosen for its central location and ease of access, as well useful possibilities for the car park and space available. All of this was enabled by the fact that patients across the country were encouraged not to visit their GP practices as they had done historically, and to contact the practice via telephone or digital consultations initially to be advised of the best way to access the care they needed.
Before the start of the pandemic, Hurley Group had been successful in achieving funding from NHS England to carry out major improvement works to the HCK site to upgrade the clinical rooms and waiting areas, as well as other works to bring the practice up to date and ensure current Infection Prevention and Control standards were achieved as well as other statutory requirements. These works were due to start as the pandemic started to build, and unfortunately the works had to be delayed due to safety requirements associated with Covid-19 and the subsequent delay with materials during lockdown. Whilst delivering ‘Hot Clinic’ services from the car park and waiting area at HCK, a positive outcome was that it was possible to segregate the premises, allowing safe Covid-19 patient flows, to enable the building contractor to resume works on the clinical rooms in May 2020.
June 2020 saw a flattening of the pandemic curve, and subsequently the Primary Care Network made the decision to step down the provision of the ‘Hot Clinic’ at HCK as the Covid-19 activity had started to decrease. We were requested to ‘mothball’ the arrangements in anticipation of a subsequent increase in activity or preparation for a second wave requiring the step-up of Covid-19 pandemic plans and requirements for a ‘Hot Clinic’. Improvement works continued during this time enabling the contractor to make up some lost time, benefiting from clear access to the premises, and ability to expand the works programme to enable faster completion.
In addition to the ‘Hot Clinic’ and building works, we are pleased to have been able to facilitate antibody testing for NHS staff from the site, a service which was struggling to find a suitable location to operate from which has been a huge benefit to the NHS system as a whole and subsequently been extended.
HCK premises have been fundamental in the Lambeth response to the Covid-19 pandemic, supporting the Hurley and Riverside patients, as well as other Lambeth patients through the pandemic, whilst general services have continued from the RMC premises. It is expected that this will continue as the pandemic remains.
Update August 2020
Flu season brings with it some additional challenges and opportunities for new ways of working. The RCGP has produced guidance on managing the Flu programme during the Covid-19 pandemic, and wherever possible, to protect patients and NHS staff, all GP practices must separate the delivery of vaccinations from the usual patient flows. Hurley Group is in the process of considering ways in which we can best utilise HCK for the delivery of the flu programme for the patients of Hurley and Riverside practices and also to support the delivery of a centralised Flu service in Lambeth.
In addition to this, we are aware that it can be challenging for some of our HCK patients to attend planned clinics at RMC for management of long term conditions or consultations where these are not possible to be done remotely. We are planning how we can reintroduce some of these services in a pre-booked and safe way from the HCK location as well as continuing to support the pandemic requirements, and delivery of immunisation.
The building works are expected to be completed within the next month, bringing modern up to date clinical rooms and a greatly improved environment for the delivery of services. As we progress towards the winter, we expect to know more about how we will all be affected by the Covid-19 pandemic, and the implications that will have on us all, and the services we need to deliver from general practice to support our patients. This will inform our plans for the relocation of services and staff, and the future use of HCK, working closely with our PPG and the needs of our patients. Our intention is to ensure that appropriate services are returned to HCK as soon as it is safe to do so to support the needs of our patients.
We understand that this has been an unsettling time and we want to reassure all our patients that you continue to have access to our regular clinical team, albeit via different methods. We appreciate that relocating services to RMC has created problems for some, and we apologise for the particular challenges with the telephone system which we are working hard to resolve. We will ensure that our patients are kept up to date with further developments and are always available to listen to any feedback you would like to give.
Thank you for your patience and understanding.
The Hurley and Riverside Practice Team and the Hurley Group Partners
Published: Sep 1, 2020