Medacs Healthcare

APR 29/2014

Seven-day GP access 'can reduce pressures on A&E'

UK emergency care services could be run more effectively and sustainably following the introduction of new seven-day working models for GPs.

The government announced plans to expand access to GP services earlier this month, a move that could lead to the creation of new NHS general practice jobs. However, the findings of a recent pilot scheme indicate that A&E departments could also benefit.

Speaking to Pulse, Dr Ivan Benett - clinical director of the NHS Central Manchester Clinical Commissioning Group - said his organisation's recent seven-day working pilot helped to greatly reduce the number of patients attending A&E because they were unable to see their GPs.

Dr Benett explained: "We estimate this has led to a reduction of 27 per cent in primary care attendance at Central Manchester University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust A&E compared to last year. There has also been a reduction of 50 per cent of people turning up to A&E saying they are there because they could not get an appointment with their GP."

The scheme was one of six conducted in the north-west of England and saw GP practices in four locations work in hubs to provide access from 08:00 to 20:00 on weekdays, as well as offering weekend services from 08:00 to 18:00.

A total of £2 million was allocated by NHS England's local area team to support these initiatives, which are designed to ensure more patients' needs are met by GPs, rather than emergency care services.

Dr Benett expressed confidence that the new operating model would eventually become self-funding due to the reductions in urgent care activity and hospital pressures it will achieve.

Other measures the government is planning include offering greater use of Skype, email and phone consultations, which will be made available for patients who find it easier to speak to their doctors this way.

Meanwhile, personalised care plans will be extended to around 800,000 people with the most complex needs, primarily patients over the age of 75.

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