THE future of visiting Hereford’s GPs has been made clearer after NHS England told surgeries they must offer face-to-face appointments again from next week.

In a letter sent out on Thursday, GPs were told the use of telephone and online consultations can remain where patients benefit from them, but physical appointments must also be available from May 17.

All practice reception desks must now be open to patients, in a Covid-safe manner, so those who do not have easy access to phones or the internet are not disadvantaged.


Total triage was a system whereby patients were remotely directed to the most appropriate health service for their problems, and was introduced as a Covid-19 precaution.

GP appointments were also conducted by telephone, video or online unless it was clinically necessary for a visit to take place in person.

In the joint letter from Dr Nikki Kanani, medical director for primary care at NHS England and director of primary care Ed Waller, doctors were told to respect patients’ choices.

Hereford Medical Group, which runs the new Station Medical Centre in the city, said it would continue to start with a telephone call before arranging a face-to-face visit.

“We know from patient feedback that many patients value the ability to speak to a clinician on the phone,” a spokesperson said.

“However, we also believe that some health issues are much better dealt with by a face to face appointment and so we will continue to offer these where it is clinically appropriate, and in consultation with individual patients.”

The group said it would continue to review how it safely opens up services as lockdown eases, and was “looking forward to being able to offer direct booking of face-to-face appointments over the coming weeks”.

The medical group added it continues to be “extremely busy”, not only because of the coronavirus vaccination programme where the group has given more than 26,000 doses, but also just maintaining normal services.