NHS England is commissioning a “covid-19 home treatment service” of primary and community healthcare for self-secluding patients, it announced today.

It is introducing “urgent primary care services to patients diagnosed with covid-19” who are self-secluded at home.

The service will care for patients’ symptoms relating to covid-19 as well as other conditions until they are discharged from home isolation and referred back to their GP.

“There is likely to be a gradual handover of patients to CHMS providers as they come onstream to provide the service,” according to a letter from NHSE’s primary care directors sent to GPs today.

“As soon as the new service is up and running in your area, your clinical commissioning group will be able to tell you who will be providing care for patients in your locality.”

Most of the CHMS providers will be “an existing local out-of-hours service provider” though it may be “an alternative provider from a different locality or a digital first provider depending on local arrangements,” the letter added.

All CHMS providers have been given the email addresses of all the GP practices in England to keep them updated about their patients.

This service is for the lower two categories of covid-19 patients, according to a new Public Health England stratification.

Category one patients are to be admitted to the hospital. Category two patients, who are at home but at an increased risk of complications from covid-19 “will receive daily communication from a CHMS healthcare professional”. At first by telephone and subsequently by “SMS or other digital communication when feasible and if appropriate for the individual patient”.

Category three patients “will be provided with advice and invited to contact the CHMS if they develop breathing problems, or other health concerns”.

The centre will also push for more practices to introduce an online consultation system, and has said that only around 50 per cent of practices have such a system in place.

NHSE will take “rapid steps” to “increase use of existing online consultation systems” and set up new systems for practices that do not have them. It will also “provide support to implement remote consultations”.