NEW figures reveal how many face-to-face appointments were conducted by Cheshire's GP practices over a 12-month period during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Despite the challenges presented by coronavirus, a total of 1.3 million face-to-face appointments took place between April 1, 2020 and March 31 this year.

GP practices across the county also conducted the same number of telephone and video appointments, as well as processing more than 52,000 referrals and issuing more than 13 million prescriptions.

Dr Andrew Wilson, Clinical Chair of NHS Cheshire Clinical Commissioning Group, said the figures showcase the breadth of work in primary care to support local people.

“There’s no doubt that 2020-21 was a year like no other for everyone working in health and care,” he said. “But despite the many, many challenges we have all faced, Cheshire’s GP practices have worked hard to support local people with both Covid and non-Covid related health issues.

“As these statistics clearly show, Cheshire’s GP practices have been extremely busy throughout the Covid-19 response – it’s just that some of our services may look a bit different.

"We've introduced new ways of working such as telephone and video appointments to help keep people safe, while also leading the way on the county’s COVID-19 and flu vaccination programmes."

To continue to protect against the spread of COVID-19, you may now be asked to discuss your conditions over the phone or online first to assess what would be most appropriate for you.

However, face-to-face appointments are available to all patients in line with clinical need.

During the COVID-19 response, more than 100,000 Cheshire patients registered to access their records online and 43,000 registered for at least one online GP service, with more than 800,000 prescriptions ordered in this way.

Dr Wilson added: "Many people have been quick to praise health and care staff for working ‘tirelessly’ throughout the Covid-19 response, however frontline staff are indeed very tired.

"Against this backdrop, health and care services – including GP practices – are now also experiencing heightened demand following the peak of the pandemic.

"Please remain patient with us as we work hard to provide the services and care that communities across Cheshire need. Thank you for your ongoing support."