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GPs are urged to put in longer hours to help ease workload at overstressed hospital A&E departments 

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GPs are urged to put in longer hours to help ease workload at overstressed hospital A&E departments

  • GPs must work longer to help A&E units that are becoming overwhelmed
  • Every area must provide ‘extended hours’ at practices, new NHS orders state
  • Appointments lost to Easter weekend are to be rescheduled within a fortnight

GPs must work longer to help accident and emergency units that are becoming overwhelmed with patients, according to NHS guidance.

The instruction comes from new orders which direct every area to provide ‘extended hours’ at practices.

Any appointments lost to the Easter four-day weekend are to be rescheduled within a fortnight, the guidance said.

Social care services were told to do ‘everything you can’ to get patients out of hospital even if that means spreading care more thinly, according to leaked correspondence seen by The Daily Telegraph.

NHS leaders have even called for a return to wearing masks and social distancing due to the high Covid-19 infection rates

As well as Covid, the NHS is grappling with high staff absence, full hospitals and severe demands on emergency care

NHS leaders have even called for a return to wearing masks and social distancing due to the high Covid-19 infection rates

The increased pressure has largely been sparked by a rising number of Covid cases.

NHS leaders have even called for a return to wearing masks and social distancing due to the high infection rates, but this has been rejected by Downing Street.

The NHS Confederation warned the virus is continuing to have a ‘major impact’ on services, with pressures this Easter ‘as bad as any winter’. 

The body, representing healthcare organisations, urged the Government to reconsider its ‘living with Covid’ plan and said ministers risk ‘abandoning’ the NHS if they do not take action.

It wants a reinvigorated focus on mask wearing and advice to meet up outdoors and in well-ventilated places when possible.

Downing Street rejected the proposals, saying vaccines are proving highly effective at preventing severe disease but acknowledging it is ‘alive to the pressures’ the NHS is facing. 

A No 10 spokesman said: ‘There is no change to our guidance and our living with Covid plan still stands.’

Asked about the view that NHS leaders felt abandoned, they said: ‘We are incredibly grateful to NHS staff who worked flat out throughout the pandemic and continue to do so in the face of Covid backlogs.’

Matthew Taylor, chief executive of the NHS Confederation, said: ‘The brutal reality for staff and patients is that this Easter in the NHS is as bad as any winter.'

Matthew Taylor, chief executive of the NHS Confederation, said: ‘The brutal reality for staff and patients is that this Easter in the NHS is as bad as any winter.’

As well as Covid, the NHS is grappling with high staff absence, full hospitals and severe demands on emergency care. 

There were 16,366 Covid patients in hospital in England as of Friday, up from 8,486 at the start of March but below a peak of 34,336 in January last year.

Matthew Taylor, chief executive of the NHS Confederation, said: ‘The brutal reality for staff and patients is that this Easter in the NHS is as bad as any winter… No 10 has seemingly abandoned any interest in Covid whatsoever.’  

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