Published: 14:14, 30 December 2020
| Updated: 14:16, 30 December 2020
A busy GP practice with 10 staff members in self-isolation because of Covid-19 insists patient care will not be impacted.
The workforce at Park Surgery in Herne Bay has been hit hard by outbreaks in the town, with employees forced to stay at home because they either have the virus or have been in contact with someone who does.
Bosses say reception staff have been hit hardest, warning of likely delays in answering phones, issuing prescriptions and writing letters.
Practice partner Dr Jeremy Carter stresses that those employees who have been diagnosed with Covid-19 are exhibiting mild symptoms.
He said: “Over the last week, we’ve had quite a few go off. The figure is in the order of 10.
“The measures we have in place have meant that it hasn’t taken out the whole of the room.
“It’s heavily stacked in our admin department, which means it may take longer to answer the phone or if patients have asked for a letter, it may take a little bit longer to type up, for example.
“We don’t have the same number of receptionists able to answer the phone, prescription clerks processing repeat prescriptions, and doctors and nurses on site.
“But in terms of our core provision, being there for patients’ needs, that’s not been impacted.”
Dr Carter is hoping residents will remain patient and understanding to the fact that this will mean “things may take longer than usual”.
Before Christmas, the town was seeing some of the highest coronavirus rates in the country. But while the most recent figures remain high, cases dropped 36% to 239 in the week up to Christmas Eve.
“Those figures are remaining stubbornly high,” Dr Carter added.
“We’re seeing that reflected in everything we’re doing – in our own workforce and the number of patients phoning up who we know are Covid positive or are showing symptoms.
“The majority of the patients testing positive are young and not becoming particularly ill – but there’s certainly a number who are in the at-risk group becoming unwell with this.”
Only Herne Bay Parade - essentially the town centre and seafront - has seen a rise in cases, where the number has risen by 11 to 59 positive tests.