Evening and weekend GP appointments in pipeline
SOMERSET GPs will soon have to offer more evening and weekend appointments under new “enhanced access” proposals from NHS bosses, writes Local Democracy Reporter Daniel Mumby.
NHS England has published plans which require all GP surgeries in England to offer appointments until 8pm on weekdays and between 9am and 5pm on Saturdays.
The proposals are designed to build on existing out-of-hours services to offer a more standardised level of healthcare across the country.
The Somerset Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), which decides how the county’s health resources are distributed, said the new system could be in effect by October.
GP surgeries in England form part of primary care networks (PCNs), of which there are 13 currently operating in Somerset.
Under the new “enhanced access” proposals, every PCN in Somerset would be required to provide nearly 300 hours’ worth of extra appointments per year for every 1,000 patients in its area.
The plans were discussed by the CCG’s primary care commissioning committee when it met virtually on Wednesday morning (June 8).
Michael Bainbridge, the CCG’s associate director of primary care, said: “This is about standardising the provision of delivery of primary care services outside practices’ core hours.
“There have been a number of initiatives in the past, and the national intention is to bring these together to provide a more standardised offer to patients about how they can access primary care services outside normal practice hours.
“One of the significant changes is a focus on Saturday provision.
“We’re working through the details with the GP provider board, and we’re expecting to be able to review plans during July before the new arrangements commence in October.
“We do already have many GPs working on Saturdays – for example, in our out-of-hours service, our emergency departments and the ambulance service.”
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