Our job at Healthwatch to help make health and social care work better for you. During the Coronavirus outbreak we thought you would have some questions.
Whether you are struggling to find the right health and care information, you have an experience of care that services need to hear about or your care has been affected by the response to COVID-19 – we want to hear from you.
Help with information
NHS and social care services have had to change the way they are working in response to COVID-19. So, if you are facing a difficult health or care decision or just don't know how to find out about what support options are available, we are here.
If we can’t help you, we try and point you in the direction of the right services who can.
Get NHS help online
The coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak means you should only leave your home if it's essential, but it's still easy to get NHS help using your smartphone, tablet or computer. This includes:
- contacting your GP
- ordering repeat prescriptions
- managing long-term conditions
- maintaining your mental and physical wellbeing
If you need an NHS service, try to do it online first. If you cannot get what you need this way or do not have internet access, try asking a friend or family member to help you, or speak to your GP surgery on the phone.
When to go in person
You should still go to hospital in a serious or life-threatening emergency, or if you feel very unwell.
You should also continue to attend appointments for ongoing treatment, unless you have been told not to.
Otherwise, you should only visit your GP, hospital or other NHS care provider in person if you have been told to by a healthcare professional. This helps to keep you safe, keep others safe and protect the NHS.
Health information and advice
The NHS website has information and advice on:
For urgent medical advice, the NHS 111 online website will tell you when and where to get help, and can arrange for you to be contacted by a nurse if needed.
Only call 111 if you are unable to get help online. In an emergency, dial 999.
If you need to contact a GP
Most GP surgeries can be contacted online. You will be able to tell your GP about your health using an online form or by speaking to someone online. This is called an online consultation. You can also make requests and ask for information. Visit a GP surgery website to find out how to do this.
You may already use a GP's online services. This is an account on a website or app that you can use to access some services online. Patient Access, Practice Plus, Doctor Link and myGP are examples of GP online service providers.
If you already have an account to access your GP online, log in to see the services you can use. If not, visit your GP surgery's website to find out about signing up.
Many pharmacies across South West London will be open for essential services to help with local resident’s health needs.
Pharmacists are trained in managing minor illnesses, are experts in medicines and offer health and wellbeing advice, and you do not need to book an appointment.
Pharmacies will be working within social distancing guidelines so please remember to stay two metres away.
Many pharmacies or pharmacy services offer a home delivery – just ask for the delivery to be left outside. Otherwise the NHS suggest you ask a neighbour or family member to pick up your medication if possible.
While visiting a pharmacy counts as essential travel, people with symptoms of coronavirus, including a high temperature/fever or persistent cough, are being asked not to go.
If you have symptoms of coronavirus use the 111 coronavirus service.
Ordering repeat prescriptions
Did you know you can order repeat prescriptions online, without needing to go to a GP surgery or pharmacy?
You can also ask your pharmacy about getting your medicine delivered to your home, rather than needing to collect it.
You can order repeat prescriptions using:
St George’s Hospital
Outlined below is some of the key information for patients and the public from St Geroge's Hospital. They will continue to update the home page of their website, social media channels and contact patients directly to keep them informed of the changes that might affect them.
Emergency care at St George’s:
St George's have said that they would like to reassure you that their Emergency Department (ED) at St George's Hospital Stays open 24 Hours a day, seven days a week, if you urgently require emergency care. They say their ED staff are ready to care for anyone that requires urgent treatment, and a number of steps have been taken to reduce the risk of infection.
New visiting policy:
To protect patients and staff and limit the spread of the virus, St George's has limited all visitors to our hospitals. Visitors are only allowed if they meet certain criteria, which is listed on their website here.
The maternity team are operating as normal a service as possible, however they have had to introduce a number of restrictions for visitors. These restrictions can be found on their website here.
Cancellation of planned operations:
In line with national guidance, St George's have cancelled all non-urgent planned operations, for a period of three months from 15 April. This will help them manage demand and ensure they continue to provide safe and effective care.
St George's will continue to carry out as many outpatient appointments as they can, but plan to use telephone consultations where possible, although some patients will still need to attend hospital.
Find out the latest up to date information around accessing services by going to their website:
Ways to manage long-term conditions
You may be interested to hear about ways you can keep managing physical or mental health conditions you may have while staying at home.
The NHS Apps Library has a wide variety of apps and online tools that can help with this, covering different conditions and categories like diabetes, pregnancy and maternity, and mental wellbeing.
Visit the NHS Apps Library
- My Diabetes My WayResources to manage diabetes more effectively
- My Health FabricSelf-help plans for long-term conditions
- Family AssistInformation on pregnancy and the early stages of your child's life
More for your mental and physical wellbeing
From health communities and forums to eating and indoor exercise resources, there is plenty of online support out there that can help you take control of your health from home.
Advice and practical tips to help you look after your mental health and wellbeing.
For more than 700 online communities to connect with people who have a similar health condition.
Get healthier and feel better by making small changes that fit in with your life.
Cancer treatment and coronavirus
People with cancer might be worried about the impact of coronavirus (COVID-19) on their treatment and care. Local NHS teams are planning how they can deliver cancer services as safely as possible.
You may be concerned about getting the treatment you need or that having treatment could put you more at risk of coronavirus. Until you hear otherwise, please continue with your current treatment and care plan as agreed with your healthcare team and speak to them if you have a specific question about your treatment.
What will happen to my cancer treatment?
NHS officials have written a letter to hospitals that provide cancer care in England and Wales, making it clear that essential and urgent cancer treatments must continue.
It may be necessary for a person’s treatment plan to be reviewed or possibly changed. Doctors will consider each person’s individual situation.
During Coronavirus there may be some changes to services. For example:
- some private hospitals will be used by the NHS to treat people with cancer
- people with cancer may need to go to a different NHS hospital to have surgery
- you may have a telephone consultation instead of one in person
- planned treatments may need to be moved to help with running a smooth service.
Your clinical team are best placed to talk with you about the effect on your treatment and appointments.
Go to the Macmillan website to read more about:
- Cancer surgery
- Other cancer treatments
- Cancer hubs
Macmillan CanChat support at St George's
Cancer patients at St George’s can now get confidential phone support from trained volunteers from the Macmillan Info Centre at St Georges.
CanChat is is a telephone service via the Macmillan Information Centre for patients who are worried about money, work, or treatment, or would just like to talk to someone who knows what they are going through.
For more information please click here:
Whatever you want to know about getting pregnant, being pregnant or caring for your new baby, you should find it on the NHS website:
The NHS supply week-by-week guides, videos, health advice and information for expectant parents.
Maternity services in South West London
For more information about Maternity services in Wandsworth go to the St George's website.
Getting Dental care while in lockdown
All routine dental care has been put on hold, so check-ups or hygienist visits you have booked in will be canceled if they are soon, but dental surgeries are still contactable by phone to field inquiries from patients. Dentists can provide advice over the phone and prescribe antibiotics and analgesics via telephone for serious cases.
Emergency dental care
Some dental problems require in-person treatment. Rather than seeing someone at your usual practice, patients with emergency dental problems are meant to be sent to urgent dental care centres, which are being set up across the UK at the moment. If you have a dental emergency and are otherwise in good health, you can call your dental practice who may refer you to urgent care. Do not visit your practice without calling first. If you have a dental emergency and are self-isolating with symptoms of coronavirus, contact NHS 111
Emergencies which may be referred to urgent care include:
- Facial swelling
- Loss of a permanent tooth
- Post-extraction bleeding
- Severe dental pain
- Fractured teeth
- Abscess or soft tissue infections.
If you need to see a dentist out of hours
- call a dentist: their voicemail may advise where to get out-of-hours treatment
- call NHS 111 to find an out-of-hours dental service near you
NHS 111 can also offer other self-care advice.
How much will I be charged?
An urgent dental treatment will cost £22.70 – see Understanding NHS dental charges.
If you're entitled to free NHS dental care, you should be able to claim back the cost of any treatment.
Ensure you keep all receipts. For more information, see Find out how to get help with dental costs.
If you're asked to come back for further treatment, this will be considered to be a separate course of non-urgent treatment.
You'll have to pay the relevant charge for the new course of treatment.
Ask the dentist what the treatment will cost or whether you can have a treatment plan.
Caring for your teeth at home
The Oral Health Foundation outlines some tips for keeping your teeth healthy at home while routine dental appointments are paused:
- Brush your teeth for two minutes, twice a day with a fluoride toothpaste
- Brush last thing at night, before you go to bed
- Cut down on sugar, particularly sugary drinks
- Use interdental brushes or floss to clean inbetween the teeth.
Information from the British Dental Association
The British Dental Association have written information for patients to keep up-to-date with dental related news during the Coronavirus epidemic here:
Domestic Violence support
As a result of the Coronavirus outbreak, many victims of domestic abuse will face additional challenges and barriers to accessing support. While self-isolating, families are likely to spend extended periods of time with abusers, which potentially could escalate the threat of violent and abusive behaviour. Victims will be more isolated from the people and the resources that could help them. Wandsworth Council Domestic Abuse Information Page:
Hestia - Bright Sky App
Bright Sky is a free to download mobile app providing support and information to anyone who may be in an abusive relationship or those concerned about someone they know.
- A unique directory of specialist domestic abuse support services with contact details.
- A My Journal tool to record incidents of abuse via text, audio, video or photo form, without any of the content being saved on the device itself.
- Questionnaires to assess the safety of a relationship, plus a section on dispelling myths around domestic and sexual abuse.
- Links to further resources and information on topics around domestic abuse.
Mental Health Support and Resources Wandsworth
We have compiled an article about Mental Health on our website,including key mental health resources in Wandsworth that you could turn to for help.
Two good online mental health resources in Wandsworth are Big White Wall and Talk Wandsworth. Talk Wandsworth has also opened a Covid-19 support line for residents of Wandsworth or those registered with a Wandsworth GP. Call: 020 3513 6264 (Option 4)
Sexual Health - Falcon Road Medical Centre
Falcon Road Medical Centre services are severely restricted due to the COVID-19 epidemic. All walk-in clinics have been suspended until further notice.
They will continue to provide care for urgent problems including painful/distressing symptoms and STIs.
Call 0333 300 2100 for an appointment (Mon-Fri 8am-7pm).
If you have no symptoms and need an STI self-test kit order online for home delivery.
Patients should postpone all non-urgent attendance. Appointments will be triaged by telephone in the first instance.
You may experience a longer than usual wait to get through.
Women Only Clinic
Women only clinic at 160 Falcon Road (for contraception and simple screening). Every second Wednesday 08:30-11:00.
Appointment only. Call 0333 300 2100
There is more information available on their website that you might find helpful.
Wandsworth council have information on what is happening with their services on their website, including care homes, social care, children's services and youth centres.
Check out their website for more details.
We are all ears
NHS and social care staff are doing what they can to keep us well during this crisis. You can help services understand the issues that are affecting care for you and your loved ones by telling us. It's our job to listen to people's experiences sharing their views with those who can do something about it.
If you’ve recently used a health service and want to share your experience, we’re here to listen. Help make services better in your community by sharing your thoughts and experiences with us and if you have a question why not get in touch?