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NHS 111 still ‘directing patients with potential coronavirus to consult their GP’

NHS 111 is directing patients with flu-like symptoms to consult their GP, without asking whether they have travelled from regions worst-affected by coronavirus, GPs have claimed.

The GP Committee of the BMA told Pulse they raised this issue with NHS England and the Department of Health and Social Care on the weekend and are still awaiting an update.

GPC member Dr Peter Holden said: ‘I drew it to the attention of the relevant clinical authorities at the weekend and am still waiting for a report on what is happening.’

Meanwhile a GP – who wished to remain anonymous – who worked out of hours on the weekend said: ‘Reading NHS 111 reports, not one patient with flu-like symptoms had been asked if they had travelled from any of the affected regions.’

This comes as Public Health England has issued advice to GPs saying they should isolate patients with potential coronavirus and have them call NHS 111 for further advice.

Among others voicing their concern was Kent GP Dr Stephanie deGiorgio, who took to Twitter to call for NHS 111 to be stripped of its role in advising on the outbreak.

According to NHS England, patients using the NHS 111 service are presented with clear options what to do if they are concerned about coronavirus. Meanwhile, if deemed necessary call handlers will arrange for patients to be tested at a relevant facility such as pods set up in emergency departments.

An NHS England spokesperson said: ‘NHS 111 does not advise patients with concerns about coronavirus to visit their GP.’

The news comes as it has been reported that two GPs are among eight confirmed UK coronavirus cases, and as several GP practices have temporarily closed as a precationary measure.