03 Jun 2021

As England moves towards the ‘new normal’ NHS leaders in St Helens are issuing a clear message that primary care services are open to treat patients.  However, people will see a difference as services are restored.

During the pandemic and as restrictions started to lift, primary care reported an increase in queries about minor ailments that people would usually manage at home without contacting their GP or health services at all.

Patients are reminded that NHS 111 is available both via phone and online at www.111.nhs.uk if you are unsure where to go and need more advice or information.  The 111 service can advise you the best thing to do or book you an appointment with the most appropriate service – that may be at A&E, the Urgent Treatment Centre or with your GP.


All GP practice websites also have useful help and advice and signposting, as does your local community pharmacist.  Key information for patients is as follows:

  • All primary care services (GP practices, dental practices, pharmacies and optometry providers) are open to treat patients, offering care which is safe, necessary and prioritised on the basis of clinical need
  • GP practices are open – and have remained open.  Face-to-face appointments remain available to all patients if they need them, but GP practices are working differently. 
  • Before any appointment you will be assessed (triaged) either online via the practice website or by phone which will help your GP decide the best kind of appointment for you
  • People are encouraged to come forward and seek help when they need any kind of medical care, using the right service for their health need.  Use NHS 111 if you are not sure where you should be seen.

Dr David Reade, GP at Hall Street Medical Centre and Governing Body member at St Helens CCG, said:

“Our practice has remained open during the past year and in fact, I’ve dealt with more patients that ever before.  The mix of remote consultations and face to face appointments has meant that I’ve been able to spend more time with those people who need the face to face clinical input, while dealing with other matters by phone and video call that don’t really require my patient to be in the same room as me.

“We have had to get used to working in a different way to keep our patients and our staff safe, and I really think that this mix of appointments benefits everyone.

“I would urge anyone who thinks they need to ‘see’ a GP to contact their practice. We will speak to you and find the most appropriate appointment for you – whether that be face to face, on the phone or via video call.  Especially if you have any new symptoms, lumps or bumps that need checking out.  Please don’t wait or stay away – we are here to help.”

St Helens resident and patient at Lingholme Health Centre, Gavin Rigby, used the E-consult service recently when he had a flare up of his eczema. 

“I was really impressed with the remote E-consult service.  When I had a flare up, I knew I needed to ‘see’ my GP so they could issue a prescription. However, this normally involves getting an appointment a week or so later, and not always at the best time for me with work commitments. 

“On this occasion, I filled in form on the practice website to describe what the problem was, and then had a call with Dr Laghari at a time that was mutually agreed. He was able to read my notes in advance and issue me with a prescription. It was easy, quick and best of all really convenient for me, and I’m sure for the practice too.”