GPs testing positive for Covid means surgery reduces services

St Stephens Gate Medical Practice in Wessex Street, which has merged with Newmarket Road Surgery. Pi

St Stephens Gate Medical Practice in Wessex Street, Norwich - Credit: Copyright: Archant 2017

Patients have been left alarmed after a city GP practice confirmed it will continue to run reduced services due to staffing issues.

St Stephens Gate Medical Practice in Wessex Street, located just off Chapelfield Road, has been running on a limited service due to Covid since March 30.

Patients of the surgery were notified by text on Monday, April 12 that a reduced service remains in operation.

The message read: "Six GPs are off with Covid, along with many nurse and reception colleagues. Do not contact us unless it's really urgent.

"We will update again when staffing levels are normal.

"Calling us to check will only make the situation worse.

"We will contact you if we need to."

One patient said: "It sounds like a response to a GP-bothering hypochondriac but was a mass-text.

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"My elderly neighbour asked me about it as she had called the GP within the last day or two because she is not well. She thought it was a telling off.

"I think it is incredibly rude and distressing.

"I get that they need to send a message, but possibly one that shows at least a degree of empathy?"

A spokesman on behalf of St Stephens Gate Medical Practice said: "The team is working tirelessly in these challenging circumstances to provide a high level of care and are co-ordinating additional shifts to manage and maintain patient appointments over the Easter period."

Labour county councillor Emma Corlett, who represents the Town Close division, said several constituents and patients had contacted her following the text received on Monday. 

Councillor Emma Corlett

Councillor Emma Corlett - Credit: Archant

"It shows what extreme pressure they're under, and it's a situation that is caused by things that are completely out of the control of health staff," she said.

"The government remains absolutely focused on whether people are dying from Covid or not but they're turning a blind eye to all the other forms of harm that are occurring as a result, because people can't access urgent medical care.

"There is literally nothing else the GP practice can do. I'm sure there are other key services across the county that are under exactly the same pressure."