DOCTORS’ surgeries are to remain open over the Easter Bank Holiday to help the NHS cope with the ongoing coronavirus outbreak.

Patients across County Durham will be able to access their GP practice, as usual, on both Good Friday and Easter Monday.

The change to traditional Easter opening hours comes as GPs across the country move to help alleviate the growing pressures on out-of-hours services.

Dr Stewart Findlay, chief officer of NHS County Durham Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), said: “Given the unprecedented situation we are in, GP practices across the county will remain available over this period for queries and appointments to help ease some of the pressures on NHS111.

“However, as per the current guidance, if patients are experiencing coronavirus symptoms they should seek help and advice using NHS111online services, at https://111.nhs.uk/covid-19, and only call NHS111 if they cannot get help online.”

All County Durham practices have now moved to total telephone triage, on line consultations and, in some cases, video consultations.

Patients are being asked not to go into their GP surgery for any reason before speaking to their practice and a need for a face-to-face appointment being agreed.

Health advice is also available to patients by completing an online (eConsult) form on their local practice website.

Dr Neil O’Brien, accountable officer for NHS County Durham CCG, said: “Our main aim during this time is to keep our patients and our staff safe.

“All patients will go through the ‘triage’ process which will enable practices to prioritise appointments for those most in need.

“Repeat prescriptions can be requested online through practice websites or by using the NHS App.

“Anyone who is not online can still contact their surgery who will advise them how they can order their medicines.

“But it remains vital, especially over the Easter period when we are predicting a potential rise in coronavirus cases, that everyone continues to help stop the spread of this virus by following Government advice and staying at home.

“This will help to save lives and protect our NHS.”

The public should visit www.nhs.uk/coronavirus or www.gov.uk/coronavirus, for the latest information on coronavirus.