GP surgeries across Worcestershire have significantly changed the way they work to prevent the spread of coronavirus.

The county's Clinical Commissioning Groups are asking patients who need a GP appointment to telephone their GP surgery in the first instance rather than turn up at their surgery to book one.

The surgery will then assess a patient’s need over the phone to ensure that they are cared for by the right person in the right place for the illness.

If a consultation is required, in most cases these will take place over the telephone or by video call rather than face-to-face.

If a face-to-face appointment is considered absolutely essential, a patient will be asked to attend a surgery at a different location to the one they are used to.

Dr Jonathan Wells, GP primary care lead for coronavirus in Worcestershire, said: “We understand patients are anxious however the changes we are making are because we want to keep the public and NHS staff safe and well.

“Anyone needing an appointment will first be spoken to on the phone or via video. This will help to protect vulnerable patients, staff and the wider population.

"For the vast majority of cases, this will be sufficient to diagnose and advise on the issue.

“The changes are necessary given the serious situation we are facing and to ensure that GP services are as resilient as possible during the crisis period.

"We ask you to please play your part to enable the NHS to play theirs.”

Lynda Dando, director of primary care for NHS Herefordshire and Worcestershire CCG, added: “All GP practices are working extremely hard to continue to deliver safe and effective primary care services for patients, including remaining open this Good Friday and Easter Monday.

“We understand this is a big change for the way that some people will access these services, but we strongly believe that this is the best way of providing primary care in these difficult times and hope that patients will understand and help us to protect this critical part of our NHS.”