NHS 111 services in south west Hertfordshire have logged tens of thousands of users reporting coronavirus symptoms since March, new figures show.

But the figures published by NHS England suggests the total number of reports to NHS 111 services dropped last month.

The data shows there were 34,931 occasions when someone in the NHS Herts Valleys area logged possible Covid-19 symptoms from March 18 to May 17.

Some 20,467 were recorded in March, with the number dropping to 11,869 in April. A total of 2,595 reports have been recorded in May up to the 17th.

The vast majority of these (80 per cent) were through NHS 111 online assessments, with the remaining 20 per cent over the phone.

Separate figures, also published by NHS England, show the Hertfordshire 111 helpline received a total of 38,476 calls in April.

This was 49 per cent less than it did in March, when there were 75,776.

Health think tank the Nuffield Trust expressed concerns over the figures, saying that those who need urgent treatment may be put off seeking help.

Sarah Scobie, the Nuffield Trust's deputy director of research, said the 111 tool was "essential" to keep patients with suspected Covid-19 symptoms safe, and those who seek advice on other conditions.

She said: "This month's data suggests that the NHS 111 service is less in demand this month, and better able to take the pressure off frontline services.

"A high number of NHS 111 calls and the fall in hospital attendances suggest that people are still making careful choices about going to hospitals.

"There are now legitimate concerns that those who do require urgent medical treatment may be put off from seeking help due to fear of infection or a desire to reduce pressure on overstretched health and services, despite some reassurances from the NHS that these services are still open."

Professor Stephen Powis, NHS medical director, said: "A&E attendances were sharply down, but the majority of these reductions were for lower risk conditions.

"Urgent cancer referrals are now picking back up – having doubled over the past three weeks – and the NHS has launched a public information campaign reminding the people of the importance of seeking care for urgent and emergency conditions.”