A NEW initiative is being started at Fordingbridge Surgery to treat vulnerable “shielding” patients in need of essential blood tests, injections and vaccinations.

A drive through marquee is currently being put in place to provide an area for these treatments as well as wound care to be carried out. It has been set up with the help of the Friends of Fordingbridge Surgery.

It is hoped it will start running early next week. 

Dr Toby Wallis, who is a partner at Fordingbridge Surgery, said: “It has been set with the aim of providing a safe drive through environment for patients who are the most vulnerable to infection.”

Patients will be able to be treated within their vehicles or at the side of them, which Dr Wallis says will help “minimise the risk” of contamination by other patients, staff or during home visits.

He added: “It will reduce the need for people to be visited at home. Home visiting can be very time consuming for things that may only take a few minutes. A blood test might take a 40 minute trip with the rural area that we have. By coming to us we think it is safer for them in terms of risk of infection but also it will make the service run more efficiently and then we can provide more of our routine services to those who are less at risk. If it works successfully we might look at providing it for our local surgeries nearby.”

“We want to make it as accessible as possible for our patients. It is going to be predominantly a lot of nursing care so blood tests and wound care will be provided,” said Dr Wallis.

This is just one of a number of a number of projects at the surgery.

“Essentially, we are trying to zone the practice into safe areas for each group of people whether they are at high risk, normal risk, or if they have got symptoms then we have got a centre, that we’ve developed with our local practices in Ringwood where we can see them safely. We are working with our local partners to provide safe services.”

Fordingbridge Surgery has also been streamlining its child and baby checks and vaccinations by having one appointment instead of two. “We are trying to increase more of our routine work like vaccinations, smears and cancer screenings,” added Dr Wallis.

Staff have been adapting to the changes brought on by the pandemic - providing online facilities for patients and carrying out video consultations to minimise footfall at the surgery. Dr Wallis thanked patients for adapting to these new ways of working. He urged them to contact the surgery with any health concerns and not to ignore symptoms.

He said: “It is important we keep other health needs addressed.”

The surgery has thanked the friends group and volunteers who have been providing support during the pandemic.

It is asking the community to help decorate the marquee with art work and positive messages.