Dr Becky Jones, (right) who practices at Dulais Valley Primary Care Centre, is adamant that obeying the local lockdowns in Neath Port Talbot and Swansea, wearing a face mask or face covering in enclosed public spaces, observing the two-metre social distancing rule, and washing our hands regular-ly, can bring down the incidence of disease.
It’s more important than ever to protect the NHS in Wales as we head into winter.
Dr Jones is the lead clinician for the Upper Valleys Cluster, four practices which also include the Amman Tawe Partnership, Pontardawe Primary Care Centre and the Vale of Neath Practice.
Like other practices across Swansea and Neath Port Talbot, the cluster has worked hard to make the necessary changes needed to make their buildings ‘Covid secure’. That includes strict one way systems, safe physically distanced waiting rooms, and in some cases, red zones, which are used to see suspected Covid-19 patients.
Dr Jones said: “This pandemic has been the biggest challenge of my career so far on so many different levels.
“It’s been challenging to keep the practices open. It’s been challenging to put in place all the safe changes that we needed to do to make sure our patients can continue to access us safely through all of this.
“It’s been challenging because we’ve had to deal with staff absences because many have had to self-isolate themselves at different times over the last few months. Having to provide a service with reduced numbers has been very difficult.
“But with the help and understanding of our patients, it is something we have been able to do and will continue to do throughout the Upper Valleys Cluster.
“Our patients have been amazing as we try and help worried people navigate through what is currently a very fast changing world.”
While it might be slightly different in different practices in Swansea Bay, if you are a patient at Dulais Valley, on arrival you will be greeted by a member of the team in PPE who will take your temperature before you can enter the building.
The majority of the seats in the waiting area have been taken out, with only a few remaining, all more than two metres apart. When you are called for your appointment, you simply follow the arrows all the way through the one-way system.
Dulais Valley also has a red zone – an area of the building where patients with suspected Covid-19 can be seen in a safe environment.
Dr Jones said: “The red zone is completely separate from the rest of the practice. You park in a different area. It also has its own entrance and exit.
“It is cleaned down completely after every single patient is seen in there.
“This has meant that we can say with confidence that our patients could and can continue to access us safely through all of this.”
With cases of Covid-19 on the increase through-out Wales, Neath Port Talbot and Swansea are both on local lockdown along with the restrict-ions that such a measure involves. It’s now up to everyone to follow the rules and try and bring the numbers down in and throughout the Swansea Bay NHS area.
Dr Jones said: “We know cases are on the increase. I certainly do as a GP, as are my primary care colleagues, because we’re assessing more patients with potential symptoms on a daily basis.
“I can’t emphasise enough how important it is that we all play our part in helping stop the spread of Covid-19.
“We have to follow the lockdown rules and wear a face mask or face covering in enclosed public spaces, wash our hands more than ever, and, of course, stay two metres apart from people who aren’t in our household.
“By doing this we can protect not only ourselves, but our friends and families, our communities and the NHS.”
If you think you are experiencing symptoms you need to self-isolate immediately and get a test. Find out more information on how to do that on Swansea Bay University Health Board’s website here: https://sbuhb.nhs.wales/coronavirus-covid-19/information/
Please only book an appointment if you have Covid-19 symptoms: a high temperature, a new, continuous cough, or loss/change of smell/taste.