People who need GP services across Bath and North East Somerset, Swindon and Wiltshire will soon be advised to visit specific ‘hot clinics’ if they are showing symptoms of coronavirus.

With more people expect to develop the virus, as well as the need to provide on going healthcare, practices across the region have introduced a system that will see dedicated sections of specific surgeries only open to people with coronavirus-like systems.

These ‘hot clinics’ will be safely staffed by teams trained to care for coronavirus patients.

Under this system, patients will be given an initial assessment via video or telephone, and only those requiring face-to-face examinations will be seen in the hot clinics.

People not showing symptoms and have not been in contact with someone with them will be directed to a ‘cold clinic’ to receive routine GP services.

Dr Andrew Girdher, clinical chair, Bath and North East Somerset, Swindon and Wiltshire Clinical Commissioning Group, said: “Although tackling coronavirus remains at the very top of our agenda, we’re fully aware that people still need care and treatment for the conditions that were here before coronavirus and will still be here afterwards.

“By separating practices into hot and cold clinics, we are able to continue providing care where it’s needed and, perhaps most importantly, in a way that does not put people at risk of potentially catching coronavirus.

“This new system does mean that some patients may not be seen in their usual practice and that they may need to travel to a different location.

“However, such instances are likely to be few and far between as, in line with government advice on social distancing, we are still carrying out the majority of consultations remotely, either by phone or video.”

Patients will not be able to self-refer to either the hot or cold clinics and will need to, in the first instance, continue contacting their usual GP practice by phone.