AN INCREASED use of telephone and video consultations is set to continue at Wee County GP surgeries as some suspended health services slowly return.

Clacks patients are being asked to note Covid-19 has led to a major shift in the way GP surgeries operate in a bid to cut down footfall at practices.

People are being asked to phone if they are concerned about their health and GP staff will be on hand to answer questions, offer advice and arrange for a health professional to call back.

Dr Scott Williams, NHS Forth Valley's deputy medical director for primary care, said: "You are more likely to have a telephone or video consultation first and then you, the nurse or doctor can make a decision about whether you need to be seen face-to-face.

"If this is the case then try not to worry as your safety is our top priority and GPs follow national guidance to make sure the practices are as safe as possible."

Not all practices are working in exactly the same way and some may ask patients to email pictures of an affected area, particularly useful when diagnosing rashes or other skin condiotions.

Most are carrying out urgent and pre-hospital blood tests and GP practices are starting to see women whose cervical smear appointments were postponed and those who have to undergo regular monitoring.

Some can offer limited numbers of joint injections and long-acting reversible contraceptive fittings if the benefit outweighs the risk.

A number of other services, including many routine chronic disease clinics and minor surgery, remain temporarily postponed.