Seven day access to GPs coming to Hartlepool in pilot scheme

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Patients will have access to a doctor seven days a week in a pilot project due to launch in Hartlepool soon.

An Extended Access service will allow patients registered at any GP practice in town to get appointments on an evening and at weekends.

Karen Hawkins, Director of Commissioning for Hartlepool and Stockton Clinical Commissioning Group.

Karen Hawkins, Director of Commissioning for Hartlepool and Stockton Clinical Commissioning Group.

The pilot scheme is due to launch from next month at a central location as yet to be confirmed.

It is ahead of a national roll out after a requirement by the Government for NHS England to provide more convenient access to GPs by September. Details of the pilot were provided by Hartlepool and Stockton Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) at a meeting of Hartlepool Health and Wellbeing Board yesterday.

Karen Hawkins, Director of Commissioning for the CCG, said the new GP service will not provide urgent care, as that will be provided from a new unit opening at the University Hospital of Hartlepool.

She said: “From April, we will have a hub in Hartlepool. We are working on a more planned approach to extended access for those individuals who work, who cannot access appointments through the week and would prefer to have appointments over the weekend or on an evening.

“It’s also to add additional capacity to GP practices to add some resilience.

“We know that our practices are under pressure. Those practices will be able to have access to those extended slots on an evening and on a weekend to free up some capacity to manage the demand in primary care, but more from a prevention focus to make sure it’s focusing on individuals with long- term conditions.”

Patients will book through their own GP or by calling the 111 service.

Fens and Rossmere councillor Alan Clark questioned how the new service would work, given the shortage on GPs in Hartlepool at the moment.

He said: “In my GP practice people are on the phone for an hour and when they get through, all the appointments are gone.”

Ms Hawkins said the CCG is working with the GP Federation and said there is sufficient capacity for the scheme to be a success.

Glen Hughes, of Fighting 4 Hartlepool Hospital group, questioned the rationale of the CCG launching the central hub when other surgeries in town have closed or are at risk of closure.

He said: “The whole point of the doctor-patient relationship is you get to know one another and should really be located in communities.”