Spring Covid Boosters 2023

You may have seen in the national press that spring Covid booster vaccinations will be on offer for eligible patients. Leek and Biddulph Primary Care Network (PCN) has participated in all but one of the previous phases, primarily because we understand that a number of our patients are geographically isolated and struggle to travel to more centralised centres.

Unfortunately and reluctantly we have made the decision not to offer spring Covid booster vaccinations, thus patients will not be able to receive Covid vaccines at their GP practices. (This is a decision that has been mirrored by many other PCNs both locally and nationally.) Over the last year as individual practices we have faced huge access demand for appointments. We expect this demand to only increase into 2023-2024 and as such a difficult decision between administering vaccines and meeting patient expectation for access needed to be made.

There are a number of National Booking Service (NBS) centres locally where patients will be able to attend, but we appreciate these are often not local enough for many. We are currently working with our Local ICB to try and on-board new NBS sites in and around our PCN geography to mitigate this issue.

Any housebound or nursing home patients that are registered with our PCN practices will still be vaccinated by an approved third party, and we will keep you updated on the specifics of this as we move forward.

We appreciate this will be disappointing news to many of our patients, but hope you can understand our reasons for not participating. If an autumn 2023 Covid vaccination program is needed we are hopeful that we can run this alongside our planned flu vaccination campaign, again we will keep you all informed nearer the time.

Many thanks,

Leek Health Centre
Leek & Biddulph Primary Care Network

2023 Bank Holiday Opening Hours

Please note that the surgery will be closed for Bank Holiday on:

Friday 7th April
Monday 10th April
Monday 1st May
Monday 8th May
Monday 29th May
Monday 28th August
Monday 25th December
Tuesday 26th December

If you require medical assistance during this time, please contact 111 or in the event of a medical emergency, please call 999.

Changes to our appointment system

As of 1st January 2023 we are changing the way in which you can book appointments at the surgery. All on the day appointments will be released at 8am, meaning you no longer need to call the surgery at 1pm for an afternoon appointment.

We will be offering routine appointments that can be booked 2 days or 2 weeks in advance if an on the day appointment is not necessary.

Please help in achieving this new system by only calling after 2pm for any test results. We thank you for your co-operation in this matter and would like to wish all of our patients a very Happy New Year.


Working Through COVID-19

  • We are still open and here for you. We are continuing to provide services as we have been doing throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. We are prioritising delivering of care and services based on clinical needs.
  • If you need medical advice or treatment, please ring us on 01538 381022. You can send queries through our website ‘contact us’ section or by emailing us on [email protected]. Our opening hours are Monday – Friday 8am – 6pm. If you walk into the practice you must adhere to social distancing; clean your hands and wear a face covering (unless exempt).
  • Due to coronavirus, how you contact us may be different at the moment. This is to limit face-to-face contact whenever possible and help stop the spread of coronavirus.
  • When you phone or go online, you will be asked to provide some information about your healthcare need. This will help the practice care navigation team to assess the most appropriate way to provide your care, which may include a face-to-face consultation and to ensure it is provided by the most appropriate person. Face-to-face appointments are available to all patients where there is a clinical need.
  • Alternatively, you can visit the local pharmacy for clinical advice on minor health concerns.
  • For urgent issues or out of hours, you can also call the NHS on 111 or go online to seek NHS advice www.111.nhs.uk. If you have the NHSApp you can access NHS111 on it. The app is available on iOS and android.
  • Appointments are being delivered face-to-face, by telephone, or using video calls and messaging to your mobile or computer – the practice team will assess what is most appropriate for you and if you have a preference, you can discuss this with them.
  • If you are asked to come into the surgery for a face-to-face appointment, please remember to wear a face covering. Measures are in place to keep you safe from infection during your visit to the surgery. If you have a disability or condition which means you cannot wear a face covering or cannot communicate with someone who is wearing a face mask, or require other adjustments before your appointment, please let the surgery know ahead of your arrival.

COVID-19 Vaccination Programme

  • Our practice is currently supporting the delivery of the COVID-19 vaccination programme. This means that at certain times our clinicians are redeployed at the local vaccination site reducing the number of appointments available here at the surgery.
  • The NHS will be in touch with you when it is your turn to be vaccinated. Please don’t call us before you are invited. In the meantime, you can get information about the COVID-19 Vaccination programme online at www.nhs.uk/covidvaccination
  • Our staff are working extremely hard to provide services and care and we would like to thank our patients for your continued support.

UPDATE: Prescription Requests over the Telephone

Since the outbreak of Covid-19 we in general practice have had to adapt the way we work due to changes brought on by the pandemic. This has resulted in mostly telephone led clinics and the majority of patient queries have been dealt with over the telephone.

This has inevitably meant that our telephone lines are extremely busy and we are aware that getting through to the surgery can be difficult and time consuming.

One way for us to free up the telephone lines and decrease waiting times is to revert to no longer accepting prescription requests over the telephone. We are aware that allowing telephone requests has helped patients greatly over the last few months but it has also contributed to the congested lines.

As of the 1st September we will no longer accept prescriptions requests over the telephone unless in exceptional circumstances. We will be contacting all patients with a mobile telephone number recorded to invite you to sign up to our online services where you can re-order your repeat medication and request acute items online. You can still post/email your requests or order them through your local pharmacy.

We hope this will make it easier for patients to get through to the surgery to access other essential services.

Many thanks for your understanding during these difficult times.

On behalf of Dr Balliu & Partners, Leek Health Centre

Coronavirus Updates

05th June 2020 – Practice Update

Leek Health Centre is continuing to run a telephone/video consultation system with the Doctors and Nurse Practitioner. We would like to encourage patients to contact us by phone if you feel you need medical assistance. If you are not sure about your symptoms, please contact us on 01538 381022.

Our Practice Nurses and Health Care Support Worker are seeing patients for injections, wound care, smears. The are carrying out annual reviews by telephone where possible.

The practice no longer provides blood tests. If you have been asked to have a blood test you will need to call 01782 674242 to arrange an appointment at one of the community phlebotomy clinics. Their phone lines are busy as they cover North Staffordshire, but please keep trying as the practice is unable to book directly into these clinics.

We have also launched the next phase of electronic prescribing. There will be no change for patients who already have a nominated pharmacy. If you do not have a nominated pharmacy, you prescription will be signed electronically and you will need to collect a ‘token’ from the practice. You can then take this to your pharmacy of choice and they can download your prescription using the bar code on the token. The token does not need to be signed by a doctor as they have signed this electronically.

If you are asked to attend for an appointment, you will be asked to attend wearing a face mask or covering to protect yourself and the members of staff. We will also take your temperature before you enter the building.

If your temperature is 37.5 or above and you are attending for a routine appointment, you will be asked to re-arrange your appointment.

Thank you to our patients for your patience and understanding at this difficult time.

02.04.2020 – Update re high risk letters:

We have been receiving calls regarding whether patients meet the high-risk criteria for 12 weeks self-isolation/shielding. Please follow the information below to help free up our phone lines.

Please be advised the searches to identify the final group of patients at high risk of severe illness from COVID 19, have been delayed nationally. If you think you fall into the high risk category then we recommend you follow the guidance issued by the Government to protect yourself.
This means:-
• Not leaving your home
• Staying at least 2 meters away from other people in your house.

17.03.2020 – Coronavirus Information

Following on from the recent news about the COVID-19 pandemic and taking into account the government’s response we feel it is imperative as a practice to be able to modify the way we work to be able to safely and effectively deal with the situation at hand by focusing on our duty of care to protect our most vulnerable patients from the impact of the current pandemic. You may find yourself affected in the following way:

  1. The surgery doors are closed but the practice is running via telephone calls.
  2. If you have an appointment booked in the coming weeks we will be contacting you to establish if you still need the appointment, if you do then the initial appointment will be conducted over the telephone.
  3. If you have a stable long term condition you may be asked to postpone your routine review appointments until such a time when this is feasible. If you feel your condition is unstable and you are unable to wait, please be reassured that you will still be seen.
  4. Routine blood tests for stable conditions may be postponed in the short term.
  5. All appointment requests will be triaged.
  6. The waiting times on the telephone may be longer than normal. We hope you will appreciate the reasons for this and please be reassured that your call will be answered.
  7. Face to face appointments are likely to be reserved for those who are deemed to require a physical examination. All other appointments will be conducted by telephone or other remote means.
  8. Appointments with your own GP might not be always possible and you may find that you may have to speak to other clinicians as dictated by availability.
  9. We are aiming to trial other ways of conducting consultations remotely, including video consultations. Please bear with us as this might not necessarily go smoothly in the beginning.
  10. The health care professional examining you may wear protective equipment, where appropriate. You may also be asked to wear a face mask (which will be provided to you). Please do not be alarmed by this as this is to ensure safety of staff so that they can continue to look after you. You may also notice that a barrier has been put up at the reception desk to increase the social distancing and reduce risks of viral transmission so that the reception staff can continue to help you.
  11. We will try to send as much information as we can electronically or post it to you so as to obviate the need for you to come into the surgery.
  12. We may ask you to wait in your car or in a different designated waiting area to reduce the risk of transmission of infection.
  13. We have temporarily suspended the booking of online appointments to enable us to triage the appointment requests whilst the pandemic continues.
  14. Our secretarial team will be working on urgent clinical work and therefore there may be a delay on non-clinical items such as insurance reports.

Please be aware that the idea behind reducing the routine appointments is to enable us to focus on dealing with the care needs of the most vulnerable patients, who will need more support during this time and also possibly allow us to release staff to other practices or hospital settings should a situation of overwhelm arise in the future necessitating radical changes to the healthcare system. Please be reassured that these are temporary measures to be able to safely and effectively deal with the situation at hand.

We are hopeful that normal general practice will resume as soon as it is safe and practical to do so.

Please help us protect the most vulnerable patients and relieve burden on the NHS by :

  1. Adhering to public health advice about hand washing, self-isolation to keep yourself and others safe.
  2. Only coming into the surgery if you are advised and to use telephone instead to contact us.
  3. Attend the surgery on your own if possible.
  4. Alert us to vulnerable individuals that we might not be aware of, especially if they are self-isolating.

Please note that it is an offence under the Heath Protection [Coronavirus] Regulations 2020 to deliberately lie about symptoms and also to refuse to cooperate with isolation.

You can find the latest information and advice from Public Health England at Further information is available on https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/

Primary Care Network

What are Primary Care Networks?

Primary Care Networks are a new way for several general practices to collaborate. The are intended to help practices:

To offer more co-ordinated clinics
To provide better ways for patient to access a wider range of health care professionals

In July 2019 we joined the Leek & Biddulph PCN, forming a group of five practices which includes:

  • biddulphdoctors
  • Biddulph Valley Surgery
  • Leek Health Centre
  • Moorland Medical Centre
  • Park Medical Centre

Why are they being set up?

In January 2019, NHS England published a 10 year plan for the NHS. It is designed to tackle 3 key issues. These are:

  • Limits to the amount of funding
  • Shortages of clinical staff, especially GPs
  • Growing pressures from an increasing and ageing population

Practices will work together and will, with other health service providers make patient care more co-ordinated and easier to access, whilst making the GP workload sustainable.

What is happening in 2019/2020?

The Leek & Biddulph PCN came into existence in July 2019, a clinical lead (Director) was elected, this is Dr Neil Briscoe. The two main objectives this year for the PCN will be to form relationships with local community healthcare providers, and recruit two new members of staff for the PCN. Specifically these roles are for a Clinical Pharmacist and a Social Prescribing Link Worker. Some practices already have these professionals working in their surgery, but these services will now be available in all practices.

What is planned for the next few years?

From April 2020, funding for additional types of health professionals will be made available to all PCNs, this will include Physiotherapists and Physician Associates (a new clinical role) and from 2021, Community Paramedics.
The NHS Long Term Plan also outlines some specific areas on which networks will be asked to focus. In 2020 they will be asked to work as a network on providing improved services to care homes, better early cancer diagnosis and more co-ordinated care with other community services.

How will these changes affect you?

You may not notice much change during 2019, especially in practices that already provide clinical pharmacist and/or social prescribing services. As we develop we anticipate you will experience easier access to the most appropriate healthcare professional. There will also be appointments available across the member practices outside of core hours including weekends and evenings.

How can patients have a say in any planned changes?

In the Leek & Biddulph PCN we are keen to involve our patients in the network development, in the first instance we would encourage you to liaise with your practice Patient Participation Group. Every practice have a Patient Participation Group and these details can be found on our website or leaflets at the reception desk.