Gloucestershire’s 75 GP practices are working together in 16 Primary Care Networks (PCNs) to make over 100,000 additional GP surgery appointments available this year in the daytime, evening and weekends through ‘improved access’ initiatives.
The extra appointments are mainly provided by GPs and nurses, and in some networks by paramedics and physiotherapists, offering a greater range of skills and services and freeing up GP time to spend with patients who have complex needs.
Paramedics are working with some GP networks to carry out home visits in the community, which is saving GPs around 120 visits a month, whilst physiotherapists in other networks are offering more than 180 appointments.
There are also more than 40 clinical pharmacists working in practices offering expert advice on medications, along with three mental health practitioners, who see around 65 patients a week.
Through these innovations and strong partnership working in PCNs, more patients are being treated close to home with fewer people needing to be referred to hospital.
The PCN model is one of the new national approaches recently unveiled in the NHS’s Long Term Plan.
The additional health professionals often work across practices providing clinics and extra appointments. Patients are signposted to the most appropriate health professional, relieving pressure on GP appointments.
Dr Jeremy Welch, a GP in Tewkesbury, said:
“Introducing different skill mixes into our practices has been excellent for patients, and across Gloucestershire we have a variety of different services based on each surgery’s specific need.
The feedback from patients and staff has been extremely pleasing and we are encouraged to keep developing the offer we are able to provide to our patients.
We are in exciting times and it really feels like a team effort to support our patients.”
More appointments are available from Monday to Friday 6.30pm to 8pm and Saturday mornings, plus Saturday afternoon and Sunday, provided by the GP Provider Company for Gloucestershire.