Across Sunderland, there has been a significant rise in the number of people using online GP consultations during the Coronavirus lockdown and doctors want to encourage others to use them more.

In Sunderland 1,365 patients used online consultations during March 2020, compared to 306 in February, before the Coronavirus restrictions were put in place.  These figures include self-help, pharmacy self-help and submitting an eConsult for help or advice from the GP practice.

Dr Fadi Khalil, Medical Director of All Together Better, an alliance of Health and Social Care providers and commissioners across Sunderland said: “For a while now, GPs across Sunderland have offered online consultations to patients and there was a gradual uptake as they proved to be a more convenient way of having an appointment. Covid-19 has made this uptake jump exponentially as patients are required to look at other ways to get the healthcare they need.

“Having these services in place has meant that we’ve been able to continue to provide high quality healthcare despite the social distancing measures we need to follow.”

“We continue to urge people not to delay seeking treatment for healthcare conditions. Local healthcare services have provisions in place to prevent any risk of passing on Covid-19.”

Philip Foster, Managing Director of All Together Better, added: Health and social care services across Sunderland are still at work and here to help. By working together across our All Together Better Alliance, our teams have rapidly adapted to this challenging situation and developed innovative ways of working to ensure that local people can still access safe, high-quality care and support. We are all getting used to different ways of doing things and we really want to thank people in Sunderland for embracing this new technology and helping the NHS.

“If you feel unwell please call your GP or call NHS 111.”

Online consultations, known as e-consultations, are available in all GP practices in Sunderland. Simply visit your practice website and complete a short online form. You will receive a response the next working day. There is a wealth of information available, including a symptom checker, self-help guides and videos, pharmacy advice, link to NHS 111 and help to request a repeat prescription or to see a GP face-to-face if you have to.