Out-of-hours GP access extended
INVESTMENT from local CCGs and NHS England means that 82% of people in Lancashire and South Cumbria have access to evening or weekend GP appointments, the health service says.
Extended GP Access is part of the national strategy to modernise primary care services and reduce pressure on busy A&E and ambulance services in the evenings and at weekends.
In Lancashire and South Cumbria, access to evening and weekend GP appointments has been fully opened to all people living in Blackpool, Fylde and Wyre and Blackburn with Darwen.
In addition, people living in West Lancashire and some parts of East Lancashire, Central Lancashire and Morecambe Bay can access additional appointments, with plans for full extended GP access for the whole population by March 2019.
GP practices in the region are already ahead of the national target for 50% of the population to be able to access evening and weekend services by March 2018.
In 2017/18 more than £8m has been invested locally and nationally by NHS England to make additional GP appointments available, rising to more than £10.5m investment planned over the next year.
Dr Kieran Murphy, medical director for NHS England for Lancashire and South Cumbria, said: “We know how vital GP services are to our local community and public satisfaction with services remains high.
“However it is important that services adapt to the changing expectations and needs of local people.
“Being able to book a GP appointment for after work or at the weekend will make sure that busy families and people who work can get help and treatment when they need it.”
The way people can access the evening and weekend GP appointments varies depending on where they live.
In some areas, patients can make appointments through their surgery or may be directed to call a different number to book.
All evening and weekend services are delivered through hubs either in a nominated general practice or health centre.
Information about local extended GP access arrangements is available on CCG websites or via GP practice reception staff.
Dr Murphy added: “I think this is a really positive development for local people. It is a really good example of GP practices coming together to develop solutions to ensure that people can book GP appointments when they really need them.
“With appointments available until 8pm in the evening’s weekdays and availability on Saturdays and Sundays, this will make a real difference, especially to those who work Monday to Friday.
“I would encourage local people to look at their CCG or GP website or contact reception staff to find out how to book an appointment.”
Bookable GP appointments are on top of emergency out of hours GP appointments, available through NHS 111.