A visit to your local GP has changed slightly under Covid-19 alert level 2 but most medical practices across the Whanganui region still have restrictions in place with many virtual consultations.

Under alert levels 4 and 3 patients were asked to phone ahead before visiting in person and most consultations were done through virtual channels.

A Whanganui Regional Health Network (WRHN) spokeswoman said the process for many consultations would remain the same with the Royal New Zealand College of General Practitioners asking practices to manage 50 per cent of patients virtually.

She said practices were offering a range of consultation options from online to phone and face-to-face as necessary.

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"There has been a lot of learning through this process and they would like to retain what works well for the patients and the practice team."

As for going to sit in a waiting room, the spokeswoman said practices are maintaining a triage process and social distancing.

"This is dependent on the physical space, some have designated infection areas, others have ensured that seating is spaced out in the waiting area."

Some GPs in the region will continue to use over-the-phone consultations with their patients. Photo / 123rf
Some GPs in the region will continue to use over-the-phone consultations with their patients. Photo / 123rf
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At Aramoho Health Centre, practice manager Therese Zimmerman said they had processes in place for anyone displaying cold or flu-like symptoms.

In alert level 4 and 3 the centre limited the number of patients that doctors and nurses would see in person, and nurses would meet patients at the door to triage them.

Zimmerman said this was no longer the process and they have opened up in-person bookings while still retaining phone consultations.

She said some doctors would still do virtual consultations whereas others may ask reception staff to triage people before they enter the centre.

Around half of their patients would be consulted over the phone, she said.

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"People will be asked on the phone when they make a booking if they have any cold or flu symptoms and also asked at reception when they come in."

If they are displaying these symptoms, they will be asked to wear a mask and wait in a separate area.

Aramoho Health Centre is now allowing patients into the waiting room if they have an appointment. Photo / Bevan Conley
Aramoho Health Centre is now allowing patients into the waiting room if they have an appointment. Photo / Bevan Conley

The practice did not want people waiting by the door in the cold for too long and has tried to work effectively around this.

Castlecliff Health is still offering telephone and video consultations and encourages clients to do so where appropriate.

However in level 2 the practice has done more in-person consultations.

Covid19.govt.nz: The Government's official Covid-19 advisory website