GPs across Warwickshire are using social media to connect with and reassure patients.
Eight surgeries across Leamington and Warwick have set up pages on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter to provide a familiar and trustworthy information source for its patients.
Staff will also post regular updates and information on coronavirus, the practices and signposting to relevant community groups for support.
To ease pressure on surgeries, national guidance has dictated appointments are moved to telephone, online or video consultation. If after a consultation, doctors feel patients need to be seen face-to-face, they would either be seen in a Covid assessment hub, or in the surgery in line with social distancing guidance.
Patients are also asked not to call their surgery for routine matters for the time being.
Waterside Medical Practice GP Emma Grennell said: “We feel like our patients need us more than ever now during the Covid-19 crisis and we are turning to social media for new ways of reaching them.
“We are offering lots of our appointments remotely given the rules on social distancing but we miss connecting with our patients. We want to provide our community with a familiar presence on social media, one that they recognise and can trust. We also want to redirect our patients from any fake news that may be circulating the internet.
“We know that this is an extremely difficult time for all of us, and people feel like they need their GP practice more than ever. We want them to know that we are working very hard behind the scenes to keep you and your family well during the current crisis.
“We are also asking people to use our online services as much as possible, such as email or e-consult. So far our patients have been fantastic, and we want to thank them for being so understanding.”
The social media platform will address common questions around health conditions, isolation, sick notes and corona symptoms.
Dr Grennell added: “There is so much information out there that we feel people can get confused, especially with the risk of fake news, which can be dangerous. We want to give our patients a reliable source of links and answers to their questions.
“We will try to answer general questions but we ask that people contact your own surgery for more specific medical questions. This will not be a replacement for your regular GP care.
“We are also getting a lot of extra requests for prescriptions before they are due, so are appealing to patients to only order what they need to ensure we keep our protect our pharmacy supply chains.”
Follow @leamingtonspa_pcn on Instagram, @leamingtonpcn on Twitter or Leamington Spa Primary Care Network on Facebook for information and updates.