A very common subject which residents raise with me is around access to GPs. I know that a lot of people have experienced problems getting an appointment at their GPs. IN particular it can be a problem getting the appointment at the GP that ‘works for you’ – e.g. at a time that suits your life or with a particular GP (e.g. ‘your own’ GP).
Last week my Lib Dem colleague Cllr Tim Pickstone was a special meeting of Bury Council’s Health Scrutiny Committee to look at this issue.
The meeting saw a presentation on the work of the Bury GP Federation, a new Limited Company which has been set up with 3 out of the 33 General Practices in Bury – i.e. 91% of all patients. Since coming into formation the two biggest projects the Federation have undertaken are two government funded projects to improve health in the Bury borough:
Nov 2013 – Contract to deliver ‘Healthier Radcliffe’ pilot
April 2014 – Prime Ministers Challenge Fund – to ensure access to GP services.
Seven Day Working for GPs in Bury
In April 2014 Bury GP Federation was successful in being granted secured £2.7m from Government to deliver a pilot, which aims to provide patients with more choice, convenience and flexibility in accessing local GP services. The ‘pilot’ has now been extended with more Government money to extend the project into 2014-15
At the moment the pilot is partially up and running, but will be fully up and running before the summer.
What this means is that patients in Bury can now book GP appointments at evenings and weekends at one of five extra-opening centres across Bury:
Tottington Health Centre, Radcliffe Primary Care Centre, Moorgate Primary Care Centre, Townside Primary Care Centre, and Prestwich Health Centre.
The service is available to any patient registered with a Bury GP and patients can book appointments through their own GP surgeries. Appointments will be up to 8pm Monday to Friday, and 8am – 6pm Saturday and Sunday.
Anyone from anywhere in Bury can go to any centre – e.g. if a Prestwich person finds it easier to go to an appointment in Bury Town Centre then that is fine. Whichever centre we go to the GP that we see will be able to access all our notes, and write to our notes. Obviously what it won’t be, is access to our own GP – if we want that we need to access them in the normal way at our own surgery.
Increased Telephone and Online
As well as the introduction of longer GP opening hours the pilot will also:
· offer telephone consultations to patients as a routine alternative to face-to face appointments at a time that suits them (during normal surgery opening hours)
· support patients from the 30 GP Federation practices to register to use a range of online services so they can book GP appointments and order prescriptions online.
When the scheme is fully up and running by summer, there will be 1420 extra GP appointments every week in across Bury. (At present it is at 50% capacity – 700 extra appointments a week).
The Government has recently announced that it will give the project an extra £600,000 to keep the pilot going until November 2015 – after that GPs will need to make the case to the NHS in Bury to carry on funding this, though at present they are hopeful this can happen.
Let us know what you think
Hopefully, when it is up and running, this is some improvement to GP services and how we access them. Please do let us know what you think – email@example.com.
Our Parliamentary Candidates Paul Ankers and Richard Baum have done a ‘Health Survey’ about these and other issues – you can take the short survey here.