A BT-related phone issue that prevented Winsford, Middlewich and Northwich patients reaching their GPs directly has now been fixed.

Due to a problem at the local BT Exchange, some calls being made to 01606 numbers were not being connected and patients at 13 GP practices were unable to contact their doctor directly.

NHS England arranged for calls to affected practices to be diverted to NHS 111 instead until the fault was resolved.

Tina Long, director of nursing for NHS England, said: “We’d like to thank patients for their cooperation during this time at only seeking medical help for urgent issues.

“We are pleased to report that patients can now phone their GP surgery as normal.

“We would encourage patients to support their local practice while it manages the backlog by considering other means of treatment for non-urgent matters.

“Pharmacists are trained professionals who can offer expert help for a range of common illnesses. The minor injuries unit at the Victoria Infirmary, Northwich, is also available to see and treat patients.

“Meanwhile, patients can continue to call NHS 111 for fast and confidential advice on the most appropriate service.

“We would like to also thank partner organisations for their help and support while the fault was being fixed.”