GP SURGERIES in Dorset have been offering double the amount of in-person appointments, compared with virtual, over the past year – despite the pandemic.

The UK government recently asked 1,000 GPs across the country to return to face-to-face appointments following the transition to online due to Covid-19 restrictions.

But, across the county practices already are offering in-person appointments with an average of 241,000 taking place each month, according to the county’s Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG).

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Dorset CCG, the membership of which includes all 81 GP firms across the county, confirmed that face-to-face consultations were even up 10.7 per cent compared with pre-pandemic years.

A spokesperson said: “The Covid-19 pandemic has meant primary care has had to change the way it works in order to deliver a large-scale life-saving Covid-19 vaccination programme whilst the same time offering care to people, including face to face consultations to those who need them most.

Read more: GPs carry out nearly half a million appointments in a month in Dorset

“General practice has stayed open throughout the Covid-19 pandemic. It is important to note that face-to-face consultations have continued throughout the Covid-19 pandemic, with nearly three million taking place over the last twelve months throughout the county, twice as many as virtual appointments during the same period.”

The spokesperson said virtual and online consultations had “continued to increase” since the start of the pandemic.

In total 280,000 eConsults have been submitted by patients to their GP practices in Dorset over the past year and around 1.4m virtual consultations have taken place.

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The spokesperson said: “General practice in Dorset was well above the national average in all areas of the recently published national 2021 GP Patient Survey.

“A higher-than-average number of respondents, 86 per cent, were satisfied with the appointment (or appointments) they were offered. 88 per cent of patients described their overall experience of their GP practice as good – well above the national average.

“We’d like to thank the public for their continued support for general practice, as well as everyone working in general practice, which has risen brilliantly to the challenge.”