NHS Liverpool Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) is embarking on a programme to transform access to GP services in the city.
In April 2016 the CCG introduced a £5.6m investment designed to increase the number of appointments available in practices, which translates to an extra 5,500 appointments across Liverpool every week. Now plans are being drawn up which will mean patients can see a GP between 8am and 8pm, seven days a week, for both routine and urgent problems.
Later this year there will be a trial of two centres offering extended hours, serving patients from a group of local practices; the intention is that by April 2017 the whole city will be covered by this approach. Work is still underway to determine how appointments will be allocated, but it is likely that patients will access the service via their usual GP practice.
As part of this ongoing drive to improve access to GP services and simplify the system for patients, the drop-in GP service currently based at Everton Road Health Centre – known as Mersey View – will close on 31 July 2016 (the two GP practices within the Health Centre are unaffected by this change). The decision follows a seven-week public consultation about the closure, which was carried out in 2015. The CCG is working with the GP practices to ensure a smooth transition to the new system. Patients who might previously have used Mersey View will be able to access extra appointments with their own GP, made possible by the CCG’s extra investment, or be referred by their practice to a GP at a new extended hours centre, one of which will be in north Liverpool.
Dr Rosie Kaur is a GP and clinical lead for primary care at NHS Liverpool CCG. She said: “As part of Healthy Liverpool we’ve done a lot of work with patients to understand what they want from local NHS services, and we know that for some people getting an appointment with a GP remains an issue.
“The city’s 93 practices are putting in place extra appointments, and we’re working with them to ensure that the way appointments are booked makes the most of what is available. For example, some practices have found that if patients have an initial phone conversation with a GP before a face-to-face appointment is made, a significant number of problems can be resolved without the need for a practice visit. This is more efficient for patients and frees up consultations for those who really need them.
“At the same time we’re looking at how we make GP services available between 8am and 8pm, seven days a week, by creating hubs where patients can see a GP even if their own practice doesn’t have an appointment available.
“There’s still plenty of work to do and we’ll be continuing our conversations with patients as plans develop, but we think that these developments offer us the chance to make a real difference to how people in Liverpool access their GP.”
Delivering GP services 8am to 8pm, seven days a week, will mean extended access for routine GP appointments. This will not affect the current GP Out of Hours service.
For more information about services members of the public can call Healthwatch Liverpool on 0300 77 77 007 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.