ST HELENS GPs have reminded the public they are open for business and urged people to avoid A&E unless there is a genuine medical emergency.

Practices across the country have had to adapt during the pandemic, with GPs using phone and video consultations much more frequently.

Face-to-face appointments are still available for urgent cases, with people also being referred to hospital where necessary.

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Dr Mike Ejuoneatse, GP Governing Body Member at NHS St Helens CCG, said: “GP practices in St Helens remain open to patients as they have done throughout the pandemic but are operating in a different way to ensure that we can keep patients and staff safe and socially distanced.

“Please don’t turn up unless you have a face to face appointment as we won’t be able to see you.

“All practices offer appointments by phone or video call and will see patients face to face if it is clinically necessary after speaking to you first.”

Dr Ejuoneatse, who is a GP at Central Surgery, also reminded residents that they should only attend A&E if there is a genuine emergency.

He said: “A&E and 999 should only be for genuine medical emergencies such as heart attack or stroke symptoms, breathing difficulties, severe bleeding or burns.

“We need to keep our hospitals free for the sickest patients and ensure that waiting areas at A&E departments are kept clear to reduce the spread of Covid-19.”

From Wednesday, St Helens and the wider region was placed under Tier 3 lockdown restrictions following surging infection rates and hospital admissions.

Whiston Hospital has seen a sharp rise in coronavirus admissions, and has also seen an increase in people turning up to its A&E department.

Dr David Reade, a GP Governing Body Member at NHS St Helens CCG, has reminded people that they should not turn up to A&E, the Urgent Treatment Centre (UTC) or their GP if they have symptoms of Covid-19.

The main symptoms to look out for are a high temperature, a new, continuous cough and a loss or change to your sense of smell or taste.

For other issues, residents can still contact their GP surgery.

Dr Reade, who is a GP Partner at the Hall Street Medical Centre, said: “If you were to ring the practice now you would be offered an appointment on the telephone or possibly a video appointment.

“This is in order to keep everybody safe including our staff as well as people themselves out in the community, just trying to reduce as much possibility of contact as possible.

“However, we will see you face-to-face if you are presenting with something that cannot be dealt with over the telephone, such as any suspicious lump or bump that needs to be dealt with.

“We will obviously see you face-to-face and examine you.

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“We are also referring people to hospital should that be required, and the process is exactly the same as always as it’s always been, so is working very well.”

If you are unsure where to go for medical help and advice, you can call NHS 111 or go online at

The NHS 111 service can offer advice over the phone, arrange repeat prescriptions or book you an appointment at the Urgent Treatment Centre or your GP practice if needed.