Family doctors in Kirklees have vowed to “rise to the challenge” despite the ongoing pressures facing the NHS.

Kirklees has 64 GP practices serving 440,000 registered patients and family doctors are in the frontline.

NHS Kirklees says that throughout the pandemic and subsequent vaccination programme, GP practices have been working hard to ensure patients, particularly those who are vulnerable, get the care they need.

In March 2021 alone, there were over 220,000 recorded appointments in Kirklees, which is higher than pre-pandemic levels. Over half of these took place face-to-face and 93,000 were with a GP.

Dr Khalid Naeem, GP and clinical chair for NHS Kirklees CCG, said: “Since March 2020, the challenges faced by the NHS have been unprecedented. GP practices have worked hard to continue to care for their patients.

“Throughout the pandemic, all our practices have remained open and have been seeing patients face-to-face when there is a clinical need, in line with the Government’s guidelines.

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“As well as helping to deliver the largest ever flu vaccination programme and supporting the Covid-19 vaccine programme, practices have continued to provide routine and urgent medical care for patients.

“They have had to do this in a safe way, whilst protecting staff from the virus through new ways of working.

“This has meant limits on the number of people we can safely have in a waiting room because of the need to maintain social distancing.

“This has involved telephone first and online systems, so when patients call the practice, they speak to a clinician who deals with the issue or arranges a face-to-face consultation if necessary.

“For all patients needing medical care, practices will continue to provide this in the most clinically appropriate way, through a combination of telephone, online and face-to-face appointments. By doing so, they can ensure even more patients get the care they need.

“Practices are currently busier than ever, and phone lines are exceptionally busy. We understand that this can be frustrating but please be patient. Our staff are working very hard to deal with everyone.”

Some conditions can be managed by seeking advice online through the NHS website or by other healthcare professionals such as opticians, dentists and community pharmacists.

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Dr Naeem added: “People who have concerns regarding ongoing conditions or any possible cancer symptoms such as a lump in your breast, changes in bowel habits, blood in your pee or poo, unexplained weight loss, moles that appear to change or a cough that you’ve had for three weeks or more, please get in touch with your GP practice as soon as possible. We can assure you that you will be seen.

“We know the next few months will be difficult but we will rise to the challenge. All we ask of people is to be kind to NHS staff; they’re doing everything they can to meet the needs of patients as safely as they can.”