Patients in Scotland with Covid symptoms should contact their GP from the end of March, the Department of Health and Social Care in Scotland has announced.
The decision comes due to a reduction in the number of patients using the NHS 24 service since the end of December.
Some areas have kept GP practices as the first point of contact for people with Covid symptoms, but the Scottish Government now wants this approach to be nationwide.
The Scottish Department of Health and Social Care said: ‘From 31 March patients will be asked to contact their GP in the first instance during the working day, as they already do for other respiratory conditions.
‘If help and advice is required out of hours, 111 should still be called.’
Scotland’s health secretary Humza Yousaf said the move is ‘another welcome step back towards normality’.
He said: ‘Call numbers and the number of serious cases are falling and the tailored arrangements put in place at the height of the pandemic are no longer required.’
Should there be a more severe variant of Covid, Mr Yousaf said the service ‘can, and will, be swiftly restored’.
He added: ‘We are continuing to support GP practices as they manage acute Covid cases. The GP Escalation Framework remains in place to help health boards and practices deal with sustainability issues and we will invest £15m this year in sustainability payments.’
It was hoped that NHS 24, a 111 helpline which came about in September 2018, would take pressure off overstretched frontline services including GP out of hours.
It comes as reports suggested that clinically extremely vulnerable people in England will be expected to contact their GP for Covid advice as the Government prepares to end all guidance for the group.