Crawley patients can book doctors’ appointments at evenings and weekends

Patients can now see their GPs at evenings and weekends
Patients can now see their GPs at evenings and weekends

All but one GP practice in Crawley has registered for a scheme allowing patients to see a doctor at weekends and in the evening.

The improved access scheme was launched in Horsham, Crawley and Mid Sussex earlier this month and has been running in East Surrey since last year.

It allows patients from all the practices to make routine or urgent appointments to attend a local primary care hub outside of the usual working hours.

While the scheme has been embraced by every other practice within the three areas, Coachmans Medical Practice, in Broadfield, has not signed up.

At a meeting of the governing bodies of the Crawley, Horsham, Mid Sussex and East Surrey CCGs (clinical commissioning groups), members were told that the Lansbury Road practice felt its patients would have trouble getting to the hub.

There were also concerns that the hub would generate more work for the already over-stretched GPs.

Arif Syed, of the Crawley CCG, challenged the point about accessibility, telling the meeting there were very good transport links in the area.

He added that there was ‘tremendous concern’ within the community that the service was not being offered.

The meeting was told that the practice would be contacted again to discuss the possibility of it registering for the scheme.

There was also some concern from the East Surrey CCG about the take-up of the available appointments and whether patients were aware of the scheme.

The meeting was told that, despite East Surrey being ahead of the game and offering the full service since last year, GPs had reported that not all of the appointment slots were being used.

Independent nurse Debbie Stubberfield said: “It is very frustrating for GPs if they are providing sessions and patients aren’t turning up.

“And conversely, patients aren’t aware of the sessions and perhaps voted with their feet en-route to A&E.

“It’s in everyone’s interests that we use the resources we have very effectively.”

The hubs are run by Alliance for Better Care Ltd, the local GP Federation, and each practice is allocated a few appointment slots per day. The system allows for 30 minutes of evening and weekend appointments per 1,000 patients, which equates to 66 hours per week in Crawley.

Patients make weekend or evening appointments by calling their own GP practice during the usual hours.

CCG clinical chairman Minesh Patel, said: “We want to ensure that all patients in Crawley, Horsham and Mid Sussex get the best possible care in the right place, at the right time.

“We know winter is a time when the NHS is under pressure, but it’s that way because it’s the time when our patients often need us most.

“We have designed this new GP service in partnership with local people.”

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