Ipswich MP Ben Gummer hails out-of-hours GP service at official launch

Ben Gummer MP cuts the "bandage" to officially open GP Plus at the Riverside Clinic with members of

Ben Gummer MP cuts the "bandage" to officially open GP Plus at the Riverside Clinic with members of the GP Plus team and partners involved. - Credit: Archant

Suffolk’s out-of-hours GP service has officially launched with the help of Ipswich MP Ben Gummer.

Mr Gummer, Under-Secretary of State for Care Quality, was at the Riverside Clinic in Ipswich to ‘cut the bandage’ and meet doctors, nurses and healthcare partners involved in Suffolk GP+.

The service, which started in September, is run by Suffolk GP Federation, which is made up of 61 GP practices in the county who work together to offer local community healthcare services while remaining independent practices. So far, 50 local GPs and nurse practitioners have signed up to the service’s bank of doctors. They will continue to work for their own GP practices while also working two or three additional shifts per month for GP+.

As part of the nine month pilot scheme, out-of-hours services will be offered in Bury St Edmunds from November.

At the opening, Mr Gummer said: “It is great to see this new service open. It’s all credit to the imagination and energy of Suffolk GP Federation who have realised the promise that the Government made to people at the election for providing GP access seven days a week, morning, afternoon and evening. It is striking that this improved service should save money across the system as people get the appropriate care, at the appropriate time, which goes to show that we can get even better services in our NHS by doing things differently.”

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In addition to the appointments being offered via local GP practices, Suffolk GP+ is collaborating with local hospitals and the ambulance service, to help ease pressure on emergency departments.

Paramedics attending 999 calls have the option to contact Suffolk GP+ where the patient is assessed as needing to see a GP rather than go to A&E. The paramedic will call Suffolk GP+ first, before bringing the patient directly for an appointment.

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Patients at Ipswich Hospital, and West Suffolk Hospital from November, who are waiting at A&E and who are assessed as having minor ailments are also being offered an appointment with Suffolk GP+.

GP Paul Driscoll, chair of Suffolk GP Federation, said: “As well as the benefits for the patient’s health in seeing a doctor sooner, we are getting good feedback from healthcare partners, such as the ambulance crews and Ipswich Hospital, who are valuing the service because it is easing pressure on A&E. This is a nine month pilot and if it goes well we hope to be able to extend it.”

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