Evening and weekend appointments are now available for patients at ALL practices in England as NHS rolls out extended hours
- All 59.6million patients in England can now make appointments at weekends
- The extended opening hours come as millions are left waiting for weeks
- Experts hope the new appointments will relieve pressure over the winter
Patients at every GP practice in England can now arrange to book an appointment after work or at the weekend, the NHS has announced.
Evening and weekend consultations have been rolled out across the NHS and is expected to offer an extra nine million appointments a year.
The extended hours come three-and-a-half years after former Prime Minister David Cameron announced his vision for a seven-day NHS.
The development is three months ahead of schedule, according to NHS England which also said it could reduce pressure on medics during the winter.
And it comes as a shortage of GPs is leaving one in five patients – around five million people a month – waiting two weeks or more to see their doctor.
People will now be able to see GPs and nurses at more convenient times in the evenings and after work after the NHS announced it has completed the roll-out of more appointments across England
‘All practices in England now offer some form of extended access to routine GP services, and they will have tailored these to the needs of their local population,’ said Professor Helen Stokes-Lampard, chair of the Royal College of GPs.
Professor Stokes-Lampard said GPs were preparing for a ‘very busy winter’ and warned people to think carefully about whether they really need a doctor.
‘We encourage patients to think about whether they really need to see a GP, or whether self-care or visiting a pharmacist are options in the first instance,’ she said.
Mother, 34, who was left ‘slowly dying’ by her ‘toxic’ C-cup…
NHS has paid private consultants £26MILLION to ‘review…
My gravy meltdown and how it led to my Alzheimer’s…
How much sugar does your favourite Christmas tipple contain?…
Share this article
The NHS said trials of the extended hours had been successful but an investigation in September found more than a quarter of weekend appointments went unused.
Some 37 per cent of Sunday appointments went to waste, plus 24 per cent of those on Saturdays, and 23 per cent on weekday evenings, The Telegraph reported.
This week’s announcement comes after last week’s first winter statistics showed the NHS is on track for its ‘toughest winter yet’.
Ambulances are already being diverted or facing long waits at some hospitals, and A&E waiting times are higher than at the same time last year.
NHS ‘SHOULD MAKE MORE MONEY BY WORKING FOR OTHER COUNTRIES’
The NHS should sell more of its medical services to other countries to raise money for patients back in the UK, experts say.
NHS Confederation, which represents senior health service staff, said the NHS has a responsibility both to help developing countries improve their health and also to raise money for the service here.
And they said it could do both at once by contracting out hospital and GP staff to other nations, The Times reports.
For example, caring for pensioners in China, doing organ transplants in India and making deals on cancer treatment in the Middle East could all raise money for UK patients.
Currently around £100million a year is made this way but experts say there is potential for much bigger profits – stretching into billions of pounds.
‘The opportunity is remarkable,’ wrote Layla McCay, NHS Confederation’s director of international relations.
‘The NHS is in high demand overseas, thanks to a long-standing reputation for high-quality, efficient healthcare, a workforce motivated by improving healthcare both at home and around the world, and enviable brand recognition.
‘There will always be an NHS ethos for global health volunteering. But there are countries increasingly able and keen to pay for services.’
And figures revealed earlier in December showed millions of people trying to make a GP appointment have to wait weeks before they can be seen.
One million English patients in October waited more than four weeks for their appointments.
Officials hope the extended opening hours at GP surgeries will help people see staff at suitable times and also mean fewer people take themselves to hospitals.
‘As well as offering convenience and choice to patients,’ said Dominic Hardy, NHS director of primary care delivery, ‘it will help to reduce some of the pressure on general practice and A&Es.’
Extended appointments have proved popular in trials – in London, where they have been available for 18 months, three quarters of appointments are used.
And in a test in Hertfordshire, nine out of 10 out-of-hours appointments were taken up in August.
The NHS said improving GP services was a key part of its long-term plan, with £3.5billion going to be invested in surgeries and community services over 10 years.
The extended GP hours will be provided by local NHS bodies rather than individual surgeries, so not everyone will see their regular doctor.
A shortage of GPs has left those remaining in the profession with ever-increasing patient lists, figures revealed last week.
The average patient list is now 50 per cent longer than in 2004 – a rise from 5,891 to 8,490.
This adds up to 59.6million patients registered across 7,017 practices in England in December.
Seven of the country’s practices have more than 50,000 patients on their books, while around 50 have more than 30,000.
Source: Read Full Article