DEMAND for GP services in Herefordshire jumped in June, figures show, although activity was still below pre-coronavirus levels.

But with doctors across England continuing to rely on remote appointments far more than before the pandemic, the Patients Association warned they should not become "the new normal” without assessing the benefits to patients.

NHS Digital data shows patients booked 293,592 appointments with practices in the NHS Herefordshire and Worcestershire CCG area in June, 31 percent more than in May.

This was still 18 percent fewer than the previous June, although demand in May was down 44 percent year-on-year.

Across England as a whole, appointments in June were 11 percent lower compared to a year ago, while in May they had been down by 33 percent.

In Herefordshire and Worcestershire, 60 percent of sessions were completed over the phone in June, up from just 21 percent a year ago.

Nationally, 48 percent were conducted over the phone, compared to 13 percent last year.

A recent survey of RCGP members found 70 percent of respondents thought telephone consultations increase efficiency.

An NHS spokesman said: “GPs have had to adjust the way they work to protect people from the risk of the virus – remote consultations offer a convenient, safe option for patients to access care in addition to face-to-face appointments."