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Farron welcomes longer GP opening hours and bids for South Lakes surgeries to become '8 til 8' national pilots

October 1, 2013 12:53 PM

Tim and the Lib Dems at WGHSouth Lakes MP Tim Farron has called on local practices to bid for newly available funds to help open seven days a week and offer services to patients outside of normal hours.

The move will make it easier for people see their family doctor from 8am to 8pm, seven days a week. It will help thousands who struggle to find GP appointments that fit in with their family and work life. GP surgeries will be able to apply to a new £50m Challenge Fund to set up a pioneer programme. Pioneers will be established in every region of the country - nine in total - which together are expected to cover up to half a million patients.

As well as seven day a week access and evening opening hours, these new pioneer GP groups will also test a variety of forward-thinking services to suit modern lifestyles, including greater use of Skype, email and phone consultations for those who would find it easier.

This first wave of pioneers will form part of a wider plan to strengthen out-of-hospital NHS care, and make it easier for practices to join up with each other, as well as other services provided in the community. Based on the success of the first wave, other groups will be encouraged and enabled to open their doors at the evenings and weekends.

The first wave will open during 2014/15, and include services such as:

  • Access 8am-8pm, and on Saturday and Sunday
  • Flexible access including email, Skype and phone consultations for those who might prefer it to face-to-face, when it is safe to do so
  • Electronic prescriptions and online booking of appointments
  • Easier, on-line registration and choice of practice
  • Joining-up of urgent care and out-of-hours care to ensure rapid walk-in access to care
  • Greater flexibility about how people access general practice, for instance with the option to visit a number of GP surgery sites in their area
  • Better access to 'telecare' to help sick people stay comfortable at home, as well as to healthy living apps

The aim is for as many people as possible to benefit from extended access, as rapidly as possible, with the pilots leading the way for others to follow.

Tim said: "In the last few days I've spoken to people living in Levens, Barbon and Ambleside and in each place local residents have told me that they want local GP practices to stay open longer. We live in a society that doesn't end at 6pm, so we need to support our GP surgeries to open for longer to meet the needs of people and families of all ages. I know longer opening GP surgeries could make a big difference to local people, so I am urging them to bid for this funding - and I will strongly back them by putting pressure on Ministers to make our area a pilot."