People in the North East will now be able to see a GP in the evening, over the weekend and over bank holidays.
The scheme, which is funded by NHS England’s GP Forward View, will benefit and offer flexibility to more than 2.7 million people. And regardless of which GP people see, they will have access to their medical notes.
GP practices are working together to be able to offer this service. Information on which GP practices are offering improved access and where this service will be located can be found on some GP practice websites.
These additional appointments can be booked in the usual way – by either calling the GP practice people are registered with or, in some areas, by calling NHS 111.
Results from NHS England’s GP Patient Survey shows that overall public satisfaction with GP services is high, however due to changes in people’s working patterns it can be difficult to get a GP appointment at a convenient time.
Dr Jonathan Slade, NHS England’s Deputy Medical Director, in Cumbria and the North East, and a practicing GP, said: “We appreciate how important it is that GP services respond to the changing needs and lifestyles of patients. We know there is growing demand for these services, especially over the winter period.
“Improving access to GP services will also encourage people to make the right choice about where to go for their health care and treatment. This will reduce pressure on other parts of the NHS, including A&E. This is so important at this time of year, as our A&E departments are under a significant amount of pressure and it is important that those who really do need emergency care receive it.”
Improving access to GP appointments is one of the main elements of the national NHS England strategy to support and improve primary care services. The GP Forward View was published in April 2016 and commits to an extra £2.4 billion a year to support general practice services by 2020/21.
Dr Neil O’Brien, Chief Clinical Officer for NHS North Durham CCG, said, “Extended GP access means more appointments for patients, which we hope will help those who struggle to find a GP appointment to fit in with work and family life.”
The NHS is urging people to carefully consider which service is best suited to their health need. They are encouraged to make a GP appointment or visit a local pharmacy for non-urgent conditions.
NHS Choices website (www.nhs.uk) is a trusted source of health related advice and information. Services can be ‘looked up’ by simply selecting the service needed and doing a postcode search.
Advice for parents and carers is also available on the free NHS child health app. The app has been developed by doctors, health visitors and pharmacists and can be downloaded from Google Play or Apple’s App Store.