By next year, people in the North West will be able to see a GP, nurse or primary care professional in the evenings and at weekends or speak to one by phone, video or email, the Government has announced today.
The Prime Minister, David Cameron, has said he wants the NHS and GPs to offer patients more tests, treatments and services closer to their home, avoiding unnecessary trips to hospital.
An extra £52 million in local funding will be invested to the NHS next year to improve GP access, modernise surgeries and improve out-of-hospital care, as part of the second phase of this Government scheme.
For patients, this will mean:
> Greater convenience with more appointments in the evenings and at weekends, plus the option for video, email and telephone consultations
> Brand-new integrated GP surgeries will be built in Bolton and Stockport, and existing practices Carlisle, Stockport and Liverpool will expand, to increase clinical space and provide greater access to pharmacists, mental health services and urgent care
> More tests, treatments and services will be offered closer to people’s homes
Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt said:
“The NHS is moving with the times. By keeping in touch with how people live their lives, far more NHS services, tests and treatments will be offered closer to people’s homes at times that suit them.
“GPs have always been the foundation of the NHS and are at the centre of our plans to move more care in to the community. We are supporting them to work innovatively to deliver 21st century patient care.”
Care Minister Norman Lamb said:
“We want to have a fairer society, and that means better care, closer to home for everyone. Today’s announcement helps patients get easier access to their GP.
“Our investment in out of hospital care will not only improve and join up services where people live but also keep people healthier in the community for longer.”
£19.6 million of this money is part of the Prime Minister’s Challenge Fund to improve patient access to local GP services. This includes extended evening and weekend opening hours for nearly 1.9 million patients registered with 290 surgeries across the North West, meaning people can juggle trips to the GP with their busy family and working lives. This follows an initial set of practices trialling this new method – backed by £50m – which improved access for 7.5 million people across England, helped reduce A&E attendances, and relieve pressure on hard-pressed GP surgeries. In the North West, practices involved in this initial pilot included the Bury Easy GP project, the Opening Doors project in Morecambe, Lancs, and The Primary Care Home, based in Warrington and covering Cheshire, Warrington and the Wirral.
In the North West, GPs across 166 practices will benefit from an estimated £32 million to pay for extended and modernised facilities, including 12 additional consultation rooms at the Heaton Moor Medical Centre in Stockport, and a new build multi-purpose primary care centre in Bolton.
Earlier this month, NHS England announced six North West schemes would be within the first 29 areas of the country to join up specialist doctors, social and mental health workers, community nurses and family doctors to provide joined up, proactive care. This new way of delivering care will be supported through a £200 million transformation fund.