DOCTORS have given a clear message to patients ahead of bank holiday Friday... we’re here to help you.

North East Essex Clinical Commissioning Group has issued a statement ahead saying primary care access will be still available to patients of all GP practices in north Essex on Friday.

It is part of the national campaign #StillHereToHelp to encourage people to seek medical help if they need it.

Both GP practices and hospital accident and emergency departments have reported sharp drops in the number of patients seeking help.

It has led to concerns patients are avoiding getting the attention they need due to fears about catching coronavirus or amid concerns they are taking up vital medical time at a time when the NHS is under extreme pressure.

However, Dr Hasan Chowhan, a GP in Colchester and chairman of NHS North East Essex Clinical Commissioning Group, urged people in medical need to get in touch.

He said: “Access to primary care services will available on the bank holiday Friday.

“If you’ve got concerns for yourself or a family member around coronavirus then the first course of action should still be visiting the NHS 111, the online symptom checker or calling NHS 111 for help and advice.

“If your concerns are non-coronavirus related, then in addition to NHS 111, GP practice staff are ready to help you.”

He added: “In recent weeks fewer people have been contacting practices than we would expect for this time of year which raises concerns about delayed presentations of illnesses that could have been treated earlier.

“But please don’t be afraid to contact us, we’re still here to help.”

The CCG added: “The message is clear - the NHS is open for business and people with any health concerns should not be deterred from seeking help and advice from the most appropriate source – NHS 111 by telephone, NHS 111 online or by contacting their GP practice.

In an emergency, such as chest pains, breathing difficulties, severe bleeding or loss or consciousness people should always call 999.