Combe Coastal Practice

The Medical Centre, St Brannocks Road, Ilfracombe EX34 8EG

Preparing for a surge in January of COVID-19 cases

The NHS in Devon is expecting to be very busy in January due to a predicted surge in Omicron cases, peaking in mid-January.

Even with very high vaccination uptake in our patients and staff, the spread of COVID-19 is already having a significant impact on NHS staff absences and this is likely to become worse.  This will further impact on staffing and will cause more disruption to wider health and services.

Every additional person with COVID-19 impacts on the ability of the NHS to carry out other important work.  For example, for every inpatient in hospital with COVID-19, on average more than eight other operations are postponed.

To prepare for this surge in January and the impact on staffing, at Combe Coastal Practice our practice is:

  • Reducing some non-urgent work, for example routine check-ups, routine monitoring, minor surgery, sick notes.  You can do your own self-certificate sick note for up to 28 days during January and don’t need a GP to sign it – click here for more information
  • Continuing to telephone triage each GP consultation first or complete online consultations. We need to limit exposure for both patients and staff but anyone who needs to be seen face-to-face patient contact will be, where it’s safe to do
  • Limiting the staff movements around our buildings to reduce the risk of outbreaks, along with regular staff testing
  • Strictly applying infection control precautions such as masks, ventilation, social distancing, and hand sanitiser.  Everyone must wear a mask in our practice unless medically exempt.

By ensuring these measures are in place, we will keep general practice open and therefore support our local hospitals, ambulances and out of hours services.

If we find that despite these measures some individual GP practices cannot open for a short period of time, then neighbouring GP practices in our area will support each other to ensure we can still ensure patients have access to GPs when it’s urgent in North Devon

Our practice will review the suitability of these arrangements each week as we learn more about the impact of Omicron on NHS services in Devon.

How can you help?

  • Please be patient and kind to our staff who are working under extreme pressure
  • Get your COVID-19 booster vaccination as soon as possible if you haven’t already.  Many people in intensive care units in Devon are young and unvaccinated. Details on how to get a vaccine are on this website…/
  • Continue to follow national guidance about wearing face coverings, social distancing and any other restrictions that are in place

Thank you for your on-going support to Combe Coastal Practice, with your help we can continue to keep our staff and you safe and provide the care needed during these challenging times.


All patients over 50 on or before 31st March 2022 and All patients 18-64 who are in a clinical risk group are eligible to receive a free flu vaccination. We currently have limited appointments for these, however, we expect to make more available next week.

All children aged 2-3 years and children under 18 in a clinically at risk group are eligible to receive their vaccinations at the surgery and you will have been sent an invitation to book an appointment. 

All other school aged children will receive their vaccination IN SCHOOL.  We are NOT able to offer these vaccinations at the surgery and you will need to wait until it is available at school.

Get your Flu Vaccination at Combe Coastal

We still have Flu vaccination appointments available at Combe Coastal Ilfracombe for Over 65’s on Saturday 6th November 2021.

Please phone the practice on 01271 863119 to book your appointment if you havnt already done so.

Flu vaccinations – update

You may be aware via the media coverage that Flu vaccine deliveries have been disrupted and will be delayed for up to two weeks. We received confirmation today from our supplier Seqirus, the largest UK supplier of Flu vaccines, stating that deliveries would be disrupted due to unforeseen road freight challenges’.  

As a result we need to rearrange some existing flu appointments, particularly the ones booked on Saturday September 18th, (and some others too).

Please be assured this is a delay only and we are working hard to rearrange appointments and Flu clinics, we still have the original allocated flu vaccines assigned to us.

We will be extremely busy trying to manage this logistically as well as handling our normal day to day enquiries from patients so please DO NOT ring us regarding flu vaccines until we have had time to complete this.

We will make the appointment changes and you will be informed either by text or letter over the coming week. Please only contact us if you cannot make the revised appointment date once you have received it.

Thank you for your patience.

Combe Coastal Team

Blood Tests

A supplier to the NHS has advised us of a global shortage of some equipment used for taking blood tests.

Anyone who needs a test for urgent health problems will still get one.

However, routine tests may need to be cancelled for now if your clinician deems it safe to do so.

Our team will be making phone calls today to those patients that have booked routine blood appointments over the next few weeks.

Given the nature of the shortage, we cannot give an exact date for when the test will be rescheduled, but please be assured that if your condition or symptoms require it, then you will get a test.

If your condition or symptoms change or get worse, please contact the surgery as you would normally.

Thank you

Flu Vaccinations

We will be starting to send invitations for Flu vaccinations out next week.

These will initially be sent to all Patients over 50 years (on or before 31st March 2022) and All patients 18-64 years old (on or before 31st March 2022) who are in a clinical at risk group.

More information can be found on at risk criteria at:

The first batch of invitations will be sent out by text message. This message will contain a link (which is only valid for 7 days) to click on to allow you to book directly into an appointment slot.

We ask that all patients respond to the link rather than trying to contact the surgery by phone if at all possible.

The second batch of invitations will be a letter sent in the post to anyone who has not received a text message.

Children’s flu vaccinations will be handled at a later date.

Please note Flu vaccinations are subject to stock.

Hospital Referrals & Delays:

A reminder to our patients that the Combe Coastal practice can not chase hospital referrals.

If you have been referred to the hospital on a routine basis, please be aware that there are currently significant delays for many departments. Your name will be added to the waiting list and you will be contacted when a date becomes available.

It is not unusual to be waiting over 12 months for a routine appointment, although this differs between departments. This currently includes Routine Xrays and scans which have an 11 month wait.

You can check the current waiting times for the department you have been referred to at the NDDH using the following link:…/hospi…/Services/DefaultView.aspx…

Please do not contact the surgery to check on the progress of your referral.

If you have been contacted to book a hospital appointment, or have had an appointment letter in the post and no longer need this appointment, please contact the hospital directly to cancel.

If you feel your symptoms have got worse, or something has changed, please contact the surgery and book an appointment with your usual GP to discuss.

Private referrals:

For all private referrals, please note that the Combe Coastal practice supply a referral letter to your chosen consultant upon request if appropriate, but it is up to the patient to source and fund their own appointment.

If you are unsure who you wish to see at the time of discussing with your GP and you do not get in touch with the details within 48 hours, your referral letter will be left bank and posted to you to forward on to your chosen consultant.

Please allow up to 2 weeks for your referral to be typed during busy periods.