Essex GPs could be open evenings and weekends under new proposals

Patients could get greater access to doctors Picture: GETTY IMAGES/ISTOCKPHOTO

Patients could get greater access to doctors Picture: GETTY IMAGES/ISTOCKPHOTO - Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

A new programme being proposed for north east Essex would see public access to GPs service increased across weekends and evenings.

A spokesperson for North East Essex Clinical Commissioning Group said “North East Essex Clinical Commissioning Group are working with NHS England (NHSE) and local primary care colleagues on a GP extended hours programme with the aim of making GP services more accessible.

“Following refreshed planning guidance published in February 2018, NHSE now requires CCGs to provide extended access to GP services, including at evenings and weekends for 100% of their population by 1 October 2018.

“The programme is still in development stage and details for north east Essex are being discussed further.”

Currently out of hours services in Essex are co-ordinated through the NHS 111 service and delivered by Integrated Care 24, a not for profit organisation.

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They do not currently offer out of hours walk in appointments.

Community watchdog Healthwatch Essex said they were looking forward to seeing how the new plans would develop in the next few months, believeing they could benefit people in the local area.

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A spokesperson for Healthwatch Essex said: “One of the most frequent calls we currently receive is from people struggling to get access to GP services in Essex.

“We understand that is mainly because there simply aren’t enough GPs in the county to meet current demand.

“We know that remains a concern for people in the county – and for us.

“So we would welcome any initiative that makes primary care services more accessible and we will be keen to hear more about the programme that is being planned for North East Essex as it develops.”

Many areas of Suffolk already benefit from out of hours services known as Suffolk GP+ where patients can book appointments in the evenings, at weekends or on bank holidays.

This project is run by the Suffolk GP Federation and is run in Ipswich, Bury St Edmunds, Felixstowe, Stowmarket, Leiston, Wickham Market and Haverhill.

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