Patients with long-term health conditions, young people and shift workers are just some of the people expected to benefit from a planned extension to the availability of appointments at Somerset’s GP Practices.
Practices across the county have extended the times when appointments are available into the early evening and at weekends with a range of primary care clinicians.
The scheme fulfills a pledge made by the government in 2015 to improve access to primary care services, which they believe could eventually improve access to as many as seven million patients a year across England*.
All of Somerset’s 71 GP Practices are currently contracted to deliver primary care medical services in ‘core’ opening times from 8.00am until 6.30pm. Through this new national scheme patients registered at a Somerset GP practice will now also be offered appointments from 6.30pm to 8.00pm, Monday to Friday and some appointments over the weekend.
There are 10 groups of between 3 and 13 practices in each local group in Somerset working together to deliver this improved access to routine appointments at evenings and weekends for the local registered population. Health staff working evenings and weekends will have access to the patient’s medical records and will be able to provide the same high standard of care as patients would expect during normal opening times.
Patients who wish to book a routine appointment in the evening or weekend can do so by telephoning their own GP Practice receptionist from Monday to Friday between 8.00am and 6.30pm.
The receptionist will advise them of the time and location of their appointment. Patients will be advised at the time of booking that they may not be able see a GP or health professional of their choice and may need to attend their appointment at a neighbouring GP surgery.
Dr Ed Ford, a GP and Chairman of the Somerset Clinical Commissioning Group said: “Extending the availability of primary care appointments to the evenings and weekends should be a significant change for those patients who find it difficult to attend a primary care appointment during the day time.”
Somerset CCG wishes to remind people that the extension to routine GP services at evenings and weekends does not replace the current Somerset Out-Of-Hours Urgent Primary Care Service.
If patients or their family members become ill overnight or at the weekend and need medical advice or help outside of opening times, they should continue to call NHS 111.
*Ref: BBC - GP opening hours scheme 'to benefit seven million patients' – 14 April 2014
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Follow this link to download a useful set of patient FAQs
Follow this link to download a poster on new evening and weekend GP services