DOCTOR’S surgeries across the whole of West Devon are under presssure as winter ailments rear their ugly heads following a festive season which saw Christmas gatherings once again take place.

As hospitals in Devon urge people to contact their GP or pharmacy rather than clog up emergency departments with anything less serious than a full-blown emergency, GPs are themselves feeling the strain as bugs proliferate.

Shortages of pharmacists at high street pharmacies, which the NHS in Devon is suggesting people contact on the first instance with coughs, colds and sniffles, has put the pressure back onto GP practices.

Darren Newland, practice manager at Abbey Surgery in Tavistock, said people were coming to the surgery this week suffering from flu and covid and chesty coughs and other respiratory ailments

‘Every single GP practice is under pressure,’ he said.

‘We are inundated and there are quite a lot of practices in the western part of Devon which are just as busy.

‘We are just about coping but we have never been as busy as this.There are people with flu, people with covid, and I think it is possibly because there has been a couple of years with no mixing with each other and a lot of the normal flus and coughs have come around and people have got them quite badly.’

He added that before Christmas there had been concern about the Strep A virus.

‘We had parents who quite rightly thought that their children might have it and they needed to be checked out, but it has continued to be incredibly busy. It is with all sorts. People have got sore thoats, there are chesty coughs and flu.’

Demand is also high at the other Tavistock GP practice, Tavyside Health Centre, where a recorded message on the phone states that ‘due to unprecedented demand’ the practice was ‘only providing urgent care’.

The two practices work together, with Mr Newland speaking for both. And he said the problem extended well beyond Tavistock.

‘I talk to lots of GP practices around Devon and everyone is in the same boat, everyone is completey inundated. It is the busiest they have seen it for a long long time.’