Good news ahead for GP ap­point­ments

Kent Messenger Maidstone - - FRONT PAGE -

Pa­tients will soon ben­e­fit from more GP ap­point­ments in the evenings and week­ends - a move which has to be seen as good news.

Hav­ing to take time off work to see the doc­tor can be a stress­ful ex­pe­ri­ence for a num­ber of rea­sons, even for those of us with flex­i­ble hours. The strain on the NHS is well-doc­u­mented and even if you are suc­cess­ful in se­cur­ing an ap­point­ment on the day you want it, you can eas­ily be wait­ing for sev­eral hours due to lim­ited re­sources, or meet­ings over­run­ning. That’s even if you feel com­fort­able enough, or have a boss who is com­pas­sion­ate and un­der­stand­ing enough, to go to the surgery in the first place. You hear plenty of sto­ries of work­ers are feel­ing un­der more pres­sure than ever be­fore to clock in even when they’re feel­ing un­well or suf­fer­ing pain. So ex­tend­ing that win­dow into the evenings and week­ends will come as a huge re­lief to a large num­ber of pa­tients. This is, of course, un­der the as­sump­tion there is enough staff to meet this in­creased de­mand within each of the surg­eries par­tic­i­pat­ing. It’s easy to for­get the GPs and staff them­selves are al­ready un­der in­cred­i­ble pres­sure, and the last think they need is an in­creased work­load. The CCG, which plans health­care lo­cally, in­sists the ex­tra ap­point­ments will be pro­vided in seven ‘clus­ter ar­eas’, where GP prac­tices work to­gether. Fund­ing of the NHS has long been some­thing of a po­lit­i­cal foot­ball and this ap­pears to be a real step in the right di­rec­tion for pa­tients. The ser­vice will need to be closely man­aged and mon­i­tored, to en­sure that all the nec­es­sary re­sources are there for those both work­ing, and re­ceiv­ing care and treat­ment.

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