GPs in England are being told to see more patients face-to-face as ministers unveil a £250m winter rescue package.
The emergency funding is being handed to GPs so they can recruit extra locum staff with an emphasis on providing more same-day appointments. Social distancing rules are also expected to be relaxed so that GPs can bring more people into their buildings.
It comes amid mounting criticism about the fall in face-to-face appointments since the start of the pandemic.
Only 58% of patients were seen face-to-face in August - the first full month following the ending of restrictions. That compares with 54% in January and more than 80% before the pandemic.
Patients have also complained of long waits on phone lines to book an appointment.
The £250m funding is part of the extra £5bn Covid fund announced last month to help the NHS through to the end of the year, and comes on top of the £12bn set aside for GP services this year.
Source: BBC News, 14 October 2021