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Health Matters: GP Extended Access Update

Health Matters: GP Extended Access Update
18 February 2019

Dr Paddy Kearns, GP partner at Manchester Road Medical Centre, Knutsford

One of the concerns I hear from the public is that they find it difficult to get an appointment at a time that’s convenient for them, often because they work full-time.

GP practices in Eastern Cheshire have been working together to fix this issue since the start of October, through the provision of additional appointments during weekday evenings and on Saturdays and Sundays.

The Extended Access Service has been well received in Eastern Cheshire, with uptake on the additional appointments rising month on month, currently standing at 82 per cent.

Over 4,000 supplementary consultations have taken place since the scheme was introduced, increasing the number of appointments available each week and making it much easier for people including unpaid carers and those with full-time jobs to get an appointment at a time that suits them.

You can access the extended hours appointments by ringing your local practice as usual and requesting an evening or weekend slot, the receptionist will then confirm the available times and location. The consultation may not be with your named GP, or in your usual practice, but they’ll still be able to access your GP record with your permission.

If you’d like to find out more about the improved access to general practice programme then contact your GP practice.

The service is the latest addition to the support network that operates outside standard working hours, such as your local community pharmacy and NHS 111, which is available if you urgently need medical help or advice but it’s not a life-threatening situation, or you don’t know which NHS service is best for your issue.

Improved access to general practice is being introduced to increase the availability of appointments for routine consultations, not to provide an alternative to services available in A&E or minor injuries units.