LIVERPOOL residents are benefitting from thousands of extra appointments at surgeries across the city. NHS Liverpool Clinical Commissioning Committee (CCG) has invested £5.6m to increase the number of appointments available in practices, and help develop plans that will mean patients can see a GP into the evening and at weekends.
As a result of the investment, which supports the CCG’s Healthy Liverpool initiative, a total of 5,500 more appointments have been available to Liverpool patients every week since the start of April. The CCG is also working with practices to make sure that they have the most effective systems in place for allocating appointments, to maximise the slots available.
Later this year the CCG will trial a new approach for providing access to GP appointments between 8am and 8pm, seven days a week, at centres which will serve patients from a number of practices outside of normal practice opening times. Although initially focussed on two areas of Liverpool, the intention is that by April 2017 the whole city will be covered by this approach. Work is still underway to determine how appointments will be allocated, and whether patients will be able to ‘drop-in’ to services.
By making it easier for people to see a GP, the CCG hopes to cut the number of people who attend local accident and emergency departments, and help reduce pressure on these services.
Dr Rosie Kaur Local GP and Clinical Lead for Primary Care at NHS Liverpool CCG said: “As part of Healthy Liverpool we’ve done a lot of work with patients to understand what they want from local NHS services, and we know that for some people getting an appointment with a GP remains an issue.
“The city’s 93 practices will be putting in place extra appointments, and we’re working with them to ensure that the way appointments are booked makes the most of what is available. For example, some practices have found that if patients have an initial phone conversation with a GP before a face-to-face appointment is made, a significant number of problems can be resolved without the need for a practice visit. This is more efficient for patients and frees up consultations for those who really need them.
“At the same time we’re looking at how we make GP services available between 8am and 8pm, seven days a week, by creating hubs where patients can see a GP even if their own practice doesn’t have an appointment available.
“There’s still plenty of work to do and we’ll be continuing our conversations with patients as plans develop, but we think that these developments offer us the chance to make a real difference to how people in Liverpool access their GP.”
Delivering GP services 8am to 8pm, seven days a week, will mean extended access for routine GP appointments. This is in addition to the existing GP Out of Hours service, which is in place to deal with more urgent issues.