Longer working hours for GPs helps ease pressure on A&E departments

Helping to ease the pressure on A&E departments.
Helping to ease the pressure on A&E departments.

Doctors across Northumberland held more than 50,000 out-of-normal-office-hours appointments last year as they strove to reduce pressure on accident and emergency (A&E) wards and hospital services.

As part of the GP Extended Access Service, launched last year, patients were provided with the chance to see a GP up until 8 pm and at weekends.

And the move was hailed as a big success at the annual meeting of the NHS Northumberland Clinical Commissioning Group at County Hall last week.

Siobhan Brown, chief operating officer of the CCG board, said: “Although there is always more that can be done, we felt this was one of our main achievements over the course of the last year.

“We have tried hard to reduce pressure on hospitals and A&E wards and having tens of thousands of patient appointments dealt with by GPs out of normal hours has certainly helped with that.”

Prospective patients can be seen at any one of five hubs in Northumberland during the extended hours and the new scheme was credited with helping the county improve its A&E record.

The CCG’s annual report said: ‘In 2017/18 Northumberland residents had access to a more responsive A&E service than the overall England average.

‘Year-on-year, we’ve shown some of the strongest performances nationally in ensuring patients were either treated or admitted to a ward within a maximum of four hours when they attended an A&E department.

‘In recent years our performance has not been as strong, however, it is still significantly stronger than the overall England position.’

Graeme Anderson, Local Democracy Reporting Service