Shake-up could see seven-day access to GPs

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Patients in Burnley and Pendle could soon be given seven-day access to doctors in a radical shake-up of GP services.

A public consultation has been launched by NHS East Lancashire Clinical Commissioning Group whose proposed new model will aim to deliver same day access to a GP from 8am - 8pm, seven days a week.

Developed by local GPs, following initial feedback from patients, the plans include introducing ‘health hubs’ across Burnley, Pendle, Rossendale and Ribblesdale to deal with additional appointments.

During the last 18 months, the CCG has been working alongside patients, carers and wider stakeholders such as doctors and pharmacists to develop a vision for how they would like GP services to develop in future. This vision is for GPs and partner organisations to work together more closely; to provide quality joined up care; with equal access to services throughout East Lancashire.

In developing the ideas, local doctors have started to form a plan to improve GP access in Burnley by working more closely together while maintaining continuity of care. The plan reflects some of the changes that patients and practices have said they would like to see.

The CCG currently funds a GP walk-in centre based at Accrington Victoria Community Hospital which serves the whole of East Lancashire.

This contract is coming to an end and while an alternative, still based in Accrington, is being considered, the CCG is proposing to introduce additional ‘health hubs’ in Burnley, Pendle, and Rossendale along with Saturday morning surgeries in Ribblesdale.

Under the proposals, extra appointments would be made available at these hubs from later in the afternoon until 8pm, Monday to Friday, to extend the access that patients have to their general practice. Weekend appointments would be available from two hubs in Accrington and Burnley from 8am until 8pm, Saturday and Sunday, and Saturday morning in Ribblesdale and Rossendale.

The proposals also state:

l Access to all appointments in the hub can be made by simply ringing your GP surgery.

l Dedicated children’s appointments would be available in the hubs due to the demand for late afternoon appointments for children.

l Dedicated care navigators will be available to advise and help patients decide on the best place for them to access health care based on their need.

l The whole system will be integrated which means if one hub is very busy patients can access other hubs. Because the service is run by local GPs it means the health hubs, unlike other services will have secure and confidential access to a patient’s full medical records. This will only be with the patient’s consent and will ensure that the doctor or nurse knows the patient’s full medical history and they receive the right treatment.

l Each hub will be located with or near to a pharmacy to ensure that any prescriptions required can be obtained easily and quickly.

l The hub would be an additional service to the minor injuries unit at Rossendale and Accrington Victoria Community Hospital, the Urgent Care Centre at Burnley, A&E, and the GP out of hours service. These services are not affected by this proposal.

The CCG is asking for people to tell them what they think of these proposals. An online questionnaire is available at www.eastlancsccg.nhs.uk/improving-gp-access/ while paper copies of the questionnaire will also be distributed to every GP practice in East Lancashire so that patients can complete these and post them using the FREEPOST survey address envelopes, or give them to the reception staff who will send them to the CCG.

Direct comments can be emailed to communications.eastlancsccg@nhs.net or letters sent to Communications, Walshaw House, Regent Street, Nelson, Lancashire, BB9 8AS. For more information ring 01282 644627.

The survey will run until July 8th. The findings will be published as soon as possible after the closing date.