DOCTORS' surgeries in Herefordshire say they understand patients' frustrations and have apologised for the way appointments have been offered.

Throughout the coronavirus pandemic, most consultations were carried out remotely, according to NHS England.

In a letter to GPs last week, the NHS said patients' preferences about face-to-face consultations, or those over the phone, should be respected.

And now in a letter to its patients, Ledbury Health Partnership said it had to change the types of services it offered as it adapted to running the coronavirus vaccination programme, and it also saw demand on GP surgeries across Herefordshire rise increase by a further 23 per cent compared to the same period last year

"We have all faced a challenging time over the last year or so, but we are hopefully putting the worst of the pandemic behind us now," the partnership, which runs St Katherines Surgery and Ledbury Market Surgery, said.

"This means that we can begin to look forward to introducing some changes to the way general practice has been asked to run during the pandemic."

It added: "We are very pleased to be able to announce that over the next few months the services being offered at Ledbury Health Partnership will be changing.

"We are hoping to reintroduce a greater capacity for routine care appointments, both with the GPs and nurses.

"We ​are also delighted to welcome our patients back to our reception area, whilst remaining vigilant and conforming to current Government guidelines on how to stay safe including the rules around hands, face, space and fresh air.

"We understand the frustration felt by our patients regarding how difficult it has been to book a routine appointment with a GP.

"We apologise that our service has had to operate differently for such a long time, but it is important to remember that this was done to keep everyone safe and limit the opportunity to spread the coronavirus further in our community."

The partnership said it was "extremely proud" to be ​playing a major role in running the Covid vaccination clinics in Ledbury and it had been an achievement to see so many patients vaccinated so quickly.

"The team at Ledbury Health Partnership, and our general practice colleagues in east Herefordshire, have worked tirelessly using Ledbury Community Hall to deliver a safe and effective vaccination programme that has enabled thousands of patients to receive protection against the coronavirus," it said.

"Although this has placed an additional pressure on our time and resources, it has been vitally important in protecting the community and the health of our patients."