NHS Oldham Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) has launched a plan to make sure Oldham’s patients can see a GP when they need to.
CCG Clinical Director Dr Bal Duper says: “We’ve been listening to the experiences of patients who’ve needed an urgent GP appointment. It hasn’t been a surprise to us that many people are struggling to get appointments. This is a national problem”.
The Royal College of General Practitioners has recently highlighted ballooning workloads, declining resources and an overstretched workforce as placing huge strain on GP services.
Dr Duper, who is a GP in Greenfield and Mossley, went on to say: “If patients can’t get in to see their GP, this affects their care and can lead to pressures elsewhere in the system clogging up A&E and out-of-hours services for example. We’ve heard what our patients are saying and we’ve set in motion plans to make sure practices can improve access to their surgeries, including GP appointments”.
The CCG is using savings made elsewhere to invest an additional £6.5million in supporting GP capacity building. Money will be spent on recruiting staff and on premises and equipment. This investment will help ensure patients can see a clinician in a timely manner, that services are of a high quality and practices are placed on a sound financial footing.
The CCG is reinforcing Primary Care Access by ensuring practices are open from 8am-6 30pm, Monday to Friday, as a minimum requirement. The aim is for each prescribing clinician (including GPs) to provide a minimum of 70 face-to-face appointments per 1,000 patients each week. Appointments will be spread across the whole day with no lunchtime closures, and pre-bookable appointments will be available for a minimum of six weeks in advance. Children under five, with acute and urgent problems, will have same-day contact with a prescribing clinician when needed.
CCG Managing Director Denis Gizzi says: “When people can’t get in to see a GP, patients suffer. GPs can begin to feel demoralised and under pressure, and services like A&E and out-of-hours suffer from increased workload too. We agree with patients, practices and the wider NHS - action is needed now, and we are determined to make Oldham’s GP services the best in England”.
The next stage of CCG plans will focus improvements to key clinical areas, including dementia, end of life, frail elderly, cancer, children’s asthma and alcohol services as well as investing in care homes.