Those with COVID-19 symptoms to contact their GP
Return to pre-pandemic procedures.
Patients with COVID-19 symptoms are being asked to contact their GP instead of NHS 24 from the end of March.
The move comes after a fall in the number of people using the service since the end of December and represents a return to pre-pandemic procedures.
Currently callers to the 111 helpline are assessed and, if necessary, transferred to a local community hub staffed by clinicians from across the healthcare system.
From 31 March patients will be asked to contact their GP in the first instance during the working day, as they already do for other respiratory conditions. If help and advice is required out of hours, 111 should still be called. NHS Inform’s coronavirus webpage remains the fastest way for people to obtain the latest health advice and information.
Several boards have continued using GP practices as the first port of call for Covid-related calls during the pandemic, including Dumfries and Galloway and Tayside. It is now considered appropriate to return to this approach nationwide.
Health Secretary Humza Yousaf said:
“This move represents another welcome step back towards normality.
“Call numbers and the number of serious cases are falling and the tailored arrangements put in place at the height of the pandemic are no longer required. But we remain on alert and should a more serious variant of the virus emerge the service can, and will, be swiftly restored.
“We are continuing to support GP practices as they manage acute COVID cases. The GP Escalation Framework remains in place to help health boards and practices deal with sustainability issues and we will invest £15 million this year in sustainability payments”.
NHS 24’s Director of Service Delivery, Steph Phillips said:
“NHS 24 staff have provided an excellent service to the people of Scotland throughout the pandemic, both over the phone and online. We will continue to update the information and symptom checker on NHS inform and encourage people to use this resource.”
The COVID community pathway was created in March 2020 and since then has managed 591,000 people with Covid- like symptoms.
This has included 475,000 community hub consultations (by phone). Of these 110,000 assessment centre consultations as a follow up in person.
Those seen by this pathway are those with Covid-like symptoms and not specifically confirmed Covid cases. It is very likely that a substantial number of these people will have been suffering from other respiratory conditions rather than Covid.
In the latest week available, 5,015 people went through the pathway (w/e 27 February). The number of COVID assessment centre consultations was 725 (w/e 23 February), which is 23% lower than in the beginning of January.
People should seek advice on COVID-19 if symptoms worsen after seven days.
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