Hundreds of extra appointments are set to be available at evenings and weekends in Doncaster GP surgeries from October this year.
NHS Doncaster Clinical Commissioning Group has awarded a contract to provide 160 hours a week of extra contact time with patients to Primary Care Doncaster Ltd - the federation which represents the borough’s 42 GP practices.
The sessions will be paid for by nearly £2 million of new funding from NHS England – part of national plans to offer more accessible services to those people who have difficulty getting to a surgery during the core weekday opening times of 8am to 6pm.
CCG Chair, Dr David Crichton, said: “We welcome this extra funding which will translate into hundreds of extra appointments every week in Doncaster - over and above what we currently have.
“Patients will be able to see a range of health professionals appropriate to their particular needs, including doctors, nurses, physiotherapists and pharmacists.”
Some appointments are already available outside these times, but the days and times vary from practice to practice.
Under this new arrangement, patients will be able to book an appointment outside their GP surgery’s current opening times at one of four designated care centres that Primary Care Doncaster are currently identifying at locations in the north, south, west and east of the borough. Patients will be able to book appointments at Saturday morning clinics in one of these four ‘neighbourhoods’. There will also be weekly clinics for homeless people, asylum seekers and other vulnerable people.
Laura Sherburn, Chief Executive of Primary Care Doncaster, said: “I am delighted that Primary Care Doncaster Ltd has been given this opportunity. The extra investment into primary care will mean more appointments for patients and most importantly, greater access to services for people that otherwise wouldn’t have received care”
Currently, only one GP practice opens seven days each week in Doncaster - the Flying Scotsman, based at St Sepulchre Gate, near the railway station.
From October 2018 it will move to the same core opening times as Doncaster’s 41 other GP practices, with patients having access to the new ‘hubs’ service for appointments at weekends and evenings.
Dr Crichton added: “This will make it an equal service for all 317,000 Doncaster patients registered with a GP in the borough.
“In addition to the extra appointments, patients who need to see a health professional urgently will still be able to book an appointment within 24 hours at the Same Day Health Centre, on South Parade, which already opens from 8am to 8pm every day of the week.
“People may also be directed to the Urgent Care Centre at Doncaster Royal Infirmary, which is open round the clock, all year long.”