December 4, 2018
Improving access to general practice
We’ve been working with some of our practices to provide ‘improved access to general practice‘ since 2016, with more practices getting involved over that time. In October, practices provided the most hours since the service began – so more patients than ever in this area were able to access their practice at evenings or weekends. This is a relatively unique way of providing this service, as elsewhere in the country, appointments often take place at one or two locations called ‘hubs’.
Improved access appointments take place before 8.00am and after 6.30pm on weekdays, and anytime on Saturdays, Sundays and Bank Holidays. Practices are working together in groups (‘localities’) to deliver these additional early morning, evening or weekend appointments. We’ve had some very positive feedback from practices about how this positively impacts both them and their patients:
“Our patients actually like the facility to have a telephone discussion over the weekend – preferably Sunday – and now actually ask for a specific call. It means they don’t have to come in and they are always there to speak to, so our DNA rate is reduced.”
“We have found being able to increase the hours of opening very helpful to our patients. We can now offer more Practice Nurse appointments on Saturday mornings which in turn means patients do not have to go to other providers for dressings etc over the weekend.”
We also work in partnership with other organisations to provide some of these appointments, one of which is the MSK assessment service with PhysioNet. In Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire, all improved access services can be accessed by contacting your registered GP practice.
The national NHS England communications campaign to remind patients that they can access their GP during evenings and weekends over the famously busy winter period starts today – so look out for this in both traditional (newspapers, billboards) and social media.