A LUDLOW town centre car park was turned into a drive through immunisation clinic in a move that looks set to change the way that GPs provide primary care even after the Covid-19 crisis is past.

The way in which one Ludlow GP surgery serves its patients is set to change for good as a consequence of the Covid-19 crisis.

If or when life returns to normal it will be a new normal for patients of the Portcullis Surgery in the town centre.

Last week and for the first time they undertook a drive through immunisation clinic, and this is a model that will be used again with the normal flu vaccine programme that begins in the autumn.

The first drive through involved patients that had been invited to attend.

“All our patients who have been notified they are due their Meningitis and MMR vaccines, simply drove in to the car-park, received their vaccine, then after a short period of time for us to be sure they have not had any adverse reactions to the immunisation, drove home again,” said Dr Catherine Beanland, a GP partner at the Portcullis Surgery.

“We are grateful for the help of Pulling Together Ludlow and Teme Leisure Centre in providing assistance in marshalling this event.

“This is one of the many ways we have changed our ways of working to ensure that patients still get the care they need with maximum safety and social distancing.

“It is our intention to use this model in order to provide flu vaccinations in the autumn and the COVID-19 vaccine when it becomes available.”

In the past vaccinations have been done at the GP surgery or in the case of the annual flu vaccine the Ludlow Hospital has been used.

The drive through enabled large numbers of people to be given a vaccine by nursing staff wearing protective equipment and enabled social distancing between patients. An evaluation will determine if the drive through approach will be continued.

But this is not the only way that the surgery has changed the way that it has worked.

There has been much more used made of video and telephone appointments so that people have not had to come into the surgery.

However, if the doctor considers this to be necessary then appointments are made for patients to come in and be examined.

“One of the first things to happen was a rapid change in the way we make appointments,” added Dr Beanland.

Appointments requests can now be made via email by simply sending an email to portcullis.surgery@nhs.net or by calling the reception team as usual on 01584 872 939. The reception team will then book an initial telephone call with a nurse, health care assistant or Doctor who then triages the call and then decides if a video consultation or photo will be enough to assess the medical problem or if a face to face appointment is needed.”