Better access to GP appointments across the district

Extended hours NHS services.

Extended hours NHS services. - Credit: Archant

GP surgeries across the district are soon to offer extended-access appointments, enabling people to get medical advice at a time convenient to them.

Herts Valleys Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), which is the NHS organisation responsible for west Herts, are introducing the scheme in phases from spring 2018, with an aim to roll out across the whole county by October.

Extended access appointments will be available with a local GP practice acting as a hub. Patients may be offered appointments at a different GP practice and with a different GP than usual, however full access to patient records will be available with patient consent.

Face-to-face appointments will still be available if preferred, however patients will also be able to get advice from GPs and practice nurses over the telephone and online, enabling faster access to consultations.

Before the scheme begins, Herts Valleys CCG will conduct a patient survey seeking views in St Albans and Harpenden, and will attend local patient groups to better understand the needs of the residents.

Dr Nicolas Small, a GP and chair of Herts Valleys CCG, said: “GPs are delighted to offer these extended appointments with out other clinical colleagues such as pharmacists and nurses.

“Our GP practices are now working together to improve the access for all patients in west Hertfordshire, following the success of the existing scheme in Watford.”

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According to NHS England, the new provision of access will include pre-bookable and same-day appointments on evenings and weekends, and will involve the commission of an additional 30 minutes consultation capacity per 1,000 people.

Services will be advertised to patients on practice websites, as well as through notices in urgent care services. Practice receptionists will be able to offer appointments on the extended hours service on the same basis as the non-extended hours service, with patients offered a choice of evening or weekend appointments on an equal footing to appointments during regular hours.

An NHS England statement said: “Good access is not just about getting an appointment when patients need it. It is also about access to the right person, providing the right care, in the right place at the right time.”