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First drive-thru coronavirus assessment centre ready to open as more planned in Shropshire

By Lisa O'Brien | Shrewsbury | Coronavirus | Published:

The first drive-thru assessment centre for patients with suspected coronavirus symptoms will open in Shropshire this week – and health bosses say more could follow elsewhere in the county if demand is high.

The new drive-through assessment centre in the car park of Shrewsbury Town Football Club

The temporary facility, which has been set up on the car park of Shrewsbury Town Football Club, is strictly appointment-only for patients who have been directed there by their GP practice, and contact should be made via NHS 111 online in the first instance.

It features three clinical rooms for patients needing face-to-face assessments, while two drive-through lanes will see patients assessed from their vehicles to decide the best course of action.

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Some patients may need to be directed to hospital, while others could be sent home with advice.

It has taken a fortnight to bring the concept to reality, with the modular building being put up, and temporary shower and toilet blocks brought onto the site at Montgomery Waters Meadow, in a matter of days.

The effort has been organised by Shropshire and Telford & Wrekin Clinical Commissioning Groups and the facility will be staffed by a team of doctors, nurses and healthcare assistants, supported by managers, admin and cleaning teams.

Steve Ellis

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Staff who helped set up the centre

There is also a staff room and the ability to open a fourth clinical room if needed.

Steve Ellis, Shropshire CCG's head of primary care – who has been coordinating the response, said: "We know we have capacity for 100 to 150 patients a day. What we don't know is what the demand is.

"We can increase capacity here if we need to.

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"We chose this site because it's central in the county. There's an empty car park because there's no football going on at the moment.

One of the clinical rooms

"It's just off the bypass, it's easy to get to.

"It's amazing how quickly things have got sorted and the support has been brilliant.

"The idea was to create a model which we could replicate.

"We have been talking about developing one for Telford next but we are talking with clinicians about that.

"We recognise Shropshire is a rural county so we could look at replicating it in the north and south if there is enough demand.

The drive through

"That will be driven by how busy we get."

He also offered assurances that staff will have access to the personal protective equipment they require.

Health bosses say the new centres will relieve pressure on local GP practices and hospitals, and effectively manage the growth of cases in the community.

Dr Kieran McCormack, GP partner at Worthen Medical Practice near Shrewsbury, has also been involved in the effort.

Explaining how the facility will work, he said: "We are not doing testing. We are doing clinical measurements.

Dr Kieran McCormack

"The history of the patient will be checked. They will measure temperature, pulse, oxygen levels, respiratory rate and decide how poorly the patient is and will make a decision on what the patient needs."

He said the clinicians at the facility will have access to patient records, and consideration is being given as to what will happen with patients who do not have access to a car.

The centre, which will effectively operate as a temporary GP practice, will be opening Monday to Friday, including bank holidays, between 8am and 7pm.

There will be no walk-in patients accepted.

The facility is expected to open early this week, with the final preparations now being made.

Lisa O'Brien

By Lisa O'Brien
Senior Reporter - @lisaobrien_Star

Senior reporter based at Shropshire Star's head office in Ketley. Covering the Telford area.

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