The NHS has set out plans for the second phase of the epidemic, including stepping up non-Covid-19 urgent services over the next six weeks as it attempts to return to normal.

In a letter to local trusts and GPs, the head of NHS England said urgent outpatient appointments should go ahead and routine surgery could be restarted.

But GPs are encouraged to continue to use online consultations.

Regular testing will be offered to all staff – even those with no symptoms.

The letter, written by chief executive Sir Simon Stevens and chief operating officer Amanda Pritchard, sets out the NHS’s approach in the coming weeks, following a drop of nearly 5,000 hospital patients with Covid-19 per day over the past two weeks in England.

It says the pressure on

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