Coronavirus Scotland: GP surgery closes after staff members have to self-isolate for Covid 

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A medical centre has closed after ‘a large number of staff members’ were forced to self-isolate – sparking concern for patients at the practice.  

Ardblair Medical Centre in Blairgowrie, Perthshire, closed and its phone number was set to direct patients to NHS 111 after an unknown number of its staff were told to isolate by Public Health. 

The GP surgery has been hit by a number of issues since the Covid-19 pandemic including telling a pensioner couple they would need to wait eight weeks for a flu vaccine.

The practice issued a statement saying that a large number of their clinical and administration staff had been told to quarantine.

Ardblair Medical Centre (pictured) in Blairgowrie, Perthshire, has closed and its phone number directs patients to NHS 111 after an unknown number of its staff were told to isolate

The practice added, however, that patients who had attended the surgery in the past week were not affected by the outbreak.

A spokesman for the health centre said: ‘A large number of our admin and clinical team at Ardblair are currently self-isolating on the advice of Public Health.

‘Please only contact the surgery if you require urgent care. Thank you for your patience and understanding.’

Depute First Minister John Swinney said he had been in contact with Ardblair regarding patient welfare during the outbreak.

The Perthshire North SNP MSP said: ‘My office has been in contact with Ardblair Medical Practice and have been assured that, while a number of staff are self-isolating, the surgery is still offering services to patients.

‘In the first instance, patients should contact Ardbliar by phone to discuss their medical situation.’

Scottish Deputy First Minister and Cabinet Secretary for Education John Swinney looks at First Minister Nicola Sturgeon as she delivers a statement to the Scottish Parliament in Edinburgh on the coronavirus outbreak

Scottish Deputy First Minister and Cabinet Secretary for Education John Swinney looks at First Minister Nicola Sturgeon as she delivers a statement to the Scottish Parliament in Edinburgh on the coronavirus outbreak

Scottish Deputy First Minister and Cabinet Secretary for Education John Swinney looks at First Minister Nicola Sturgeon as she delivers a statement to the Scottish Parliament in Edinburgh on the coronavirus outbreak

But when MailOnline put a phonecall in to the surgery it was met with an automated tone directing patients to 999 and NHS 111 in the case of a medical emergency. The call was then ended.

The Covid-19-affected practice was at the centre of a flu jab storm earlier this year after telling pensioner couple they would need to wait eight weeks for a vaccine.

The row continued after the surgery failed to book patients flu jabs at new hubs set up by NHS Tayside despite guidance from the health board.

Ardblair hit the headlines again in October when they refused to come to the aid of one of their own elderly patients who burst open her face 12 feet from their front door – after she had just visited the centre.

The New Surgery in Folkestone, Kent, closed its doors on Monday, November 9, due to 'staff sickness' and confirmed they had tested positive for coronavirus four days later

The New Surgery in Folkestone, Kent, closed its doors on Monday, November 9, due to 'staff sickness' and confirmed they had tested positive for coronavirus four days later

The New Surgery in Folkestone, Kent, closed its doors on Monday, November 9, due to ‘staff sickness’ and confirmed they had tested positive for coronavirus four days later

NHS Tayside and Ardblair Medical Centre, which is independently owned, have been contacted for further comment regarding the outbreak.

It comes after The New Surgery in Folkestone, Kent, was forced to close its doors on Monday, November 9, due to ‘staff sickness’. It confirmed eight had tested positive for coronavirus four days later.

Worried patients who had their annual flu jabs claimed they were not contacted by the surgery or asked to self-isolate despite the risk.

The outbreak meant 27 per cent of the 29 staff had the killer contagious bug. 

The surgery has four GPs, two managers, two advanced nurse practitioners, three nurses, two health care assistants, ten admin assistants, three receptionists, two medical secretaries and a data analyst.  

Locals blasted the surgery for not doing more to protect its patients following the outbreak. Just the week before up to 300 people are believed to have visited the clinic for a flu jab. Pictured, a post on the surgery's Facebook page

Locals blasted the surgery for not doing more to protect its patients following the outbreak. Just the week before up to 300 people are believed to have visited the clinic for a flu jab. Pictured, a post on the surgery's Facebook page

Locals blasted the surgery for not doing more to protect its patients following the outbreak. Just the week before up to 300 people are believed to have visited the clinic for a flu jab. Pictured, a post on the surgery’s Facebook page

Locals blasted the surgery for not doing more to protect its patients following the outbreak. Just the week before up to 300 people are believed to have visited the clinic for a flu jab.

Michelle Robinson said: ‘What about people that have had their flu jabs in the surgery the week before they closed. 

‘High risk patients that they haven’t bothered to contact. Disgusting.’

Jacqueline Kennedy added: ‘Why not say the day it closed. Ridiculous.’

Vicky Snelling said: ‘Mum had a call from the doctor today profusely apologising about the palaver.’ 

Kent and Medway Clinical Commissioning Group said clinical staff at the flu clinic were wearing face masks, visors, gloves and aprons.

It added admin staff working outside the clinic booking patients in wore masks and observed social distancing.

In addition, staff and patients were using hand sanitiser. It also said it didn’t want the outbreak to put people off getting their flu vaccine.

A spokesman said: ‘None of the clinicians giving patients’ vaccines have tested positive for Covid-19.

‘All staff involved in the clinic used PPE, patients wore face covering and social distancing was in place to maintain patient and staff safety. PHE has confirmed the risk to patients is minimal.’    

Dr Richard Dawood, the leading GP at The Fleet Street Clinic in London, told MailOnline ‘there is never any room for complacency’ when delivering vaccines.

He added: ‘Delivering large numbers of vaccine doses safely is a big challenge, and one that we really need to get on top of. 

‘We need to treat this year’s winter flu programme as a dry run for a the much larger challenge of rolling out a coronavirus vaccine programme, delivering two doses of vaccine to the entire UK population.

Worried patients who had their annual flu jabs recently claimed they were not contacted by the surgery or asked to self-isolate despite the risk. Pictured, the surgery only revealed it had closed for 'staff sickness' at first

Worried patients who had their annual flu jabs recently claimed they were not contacted by the surgery or asked to self-isolate despite the risk. Pictured, the surgery only revealed it had closed for 'staff sickness' at first

Worried patients who had their annual flu jabs recently claimed they were not contacted by the surgery or asked to self-isolate despite the risk. Pictured, the surgery only revealed it had closed for ‘staff sickness’ at first

‘At the Fleet Street Clinic, we vaccinate thousands of people against flu every year, either in their workplace or at our own clinic in central London. 

‘Whereas previously we used to run this as a “walk-in” service, with no appointment necessary, we use a self-service web tool to space out appointments during the day, with only small numbers of patients arriving in a steady stream, coming in to a separate area of the practice. 

‘We use PPE and enhanced cleaning regime. We also have our own testing resources so can react quickly to any concerns or symptoms among our staff. But there is never any room for complacency.’

And Enrico Allegra, the lead microbiologist at Inivos, said GP surgeries woild be ‘undoubtedly’ at a higher risk of spreading COVID-19.

He added: ‘COVID-19 is highly infectious, and we know that many cases can be asymptomatic, particularly in the early stages of the infection. Therefore, potentially infected patients visiting their GP surgery for their flu jab might unknowingly be spreading the virus, putting other patients, doctors, and staff at risk.

‘Most GP surgeries have strict measures in place, including social distancing, hand sanitiser stations, PPE policies, and manual deep cleaning. 

‘These measures can help to reduce the risk of transmission to a degree – however, although important they are not enough to eradicate harmful pathogens such as SARS-CoV-2, the causative agent of the COVID-19 pandemic.

‘Manual cleaning alone is not sufficient when it comes to reducing risk of infection – this is due to unavoidable human error. 

‘What’s more, COVID-19 predominantly spreads via airborne droplets, which can present a bigger challenge to manual cleaning. Therefore, to mitigate this risk, GP surgeries should deploy more robust decontamination measures to ensure safe environmental level of pathogens.’   

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