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Newcastle Gateshead Clinical Commisioning Group

Newcastle Gateshead Clinical Commisioning Group

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Gateshead bid success set to transform access to GPs

Gateshead bid success set to transform access to GPs

A successful funding bid by local doctors is set to make it easier for Gateshead residents to see a GP.

The bid to the Prime Minister’s Challenge Fund, which was led by Gateshead Community Based Care (CBC) Ltd with support from NHS Gateshead Clinical Commissioning Group, will provide over 800 additional appointments every week, as well as more home visits for the borough’s most vulnerable patients.

The Gateshead Extra Care project, which was among the winning bids highlighted in today’s Prime Minister’s Challenge Fund announcement, aims to improve GPs’ shared use of technology and increase flexibility around appointments.

Dr Bill Westwood, Director of Gateshead CBC, said: “We know that patients are keen to have more flexibility in the way they see GPs, but also value the continuity of care that they receive from their practice.

“This project will provide a far more flexible service that is suited to modern lifestyles, as well as meeting the increasing demand for home visits for more frail patients and people with complex conditions.”

The £2m scheme will develop three new ‘general practice hubs’ offering services for patients with minor illnesses seven days a week, as well as two ‘home visiting hubs’ providing 90 hours of clinical time each week to support patients in their own homes. The use of the same EMIS IT system as practices will ensure that GPs can access and record information on the patient’s medical file in real time.

Dr Mark Dornan, Chair of NHS Gateshead Clinical Commissioning Group, said: “This is fantastic news for patients in Gateshead, whether they are busy working people needing more flexible services or older people with a need for closer support at home.

“Patients will have a much wider choice of ways to see a GP, with longer opening hours, the option to see a GP near work and in the future explore the options for video consultations if they prefer.”

“Earlier this month Gateshead was selected as a national ‘vanguard’ area in recognition of our success in reducing hospital admissions among people living in care homes, and this is another big step towards better care for our most vulnerable patients.”

Once recruitment has taken place, the new general practice hubs will plan to open 8am-8pm Monday to Friday and 9-2pm at weekends, with a mixture of pre-bookable appointments and walk-in services as well as the hope to use video consultations or a telephone consultation if the patient prefers.

The home visiting service will be delivered from two centres operating 4-8pm Monday to Friday and 8am-8pm at weekends. The service will operate mainly through face-to-face visits, but will also explore using technology with care homes to ensure that patients can use Skype-style consultations.

The changes are hoped to reduce the growing pressure on A&E services and walk-in centres, and free up GP practices to spend more time on health promotion, prevention of illness and management of patients with long term conditions.

The Prime Minister’s Challenge Fund was announced in October 2013, offering £50 million to help improve access to general practice and stimulate innovative ways of providing primary care services. Twenty pilot schemes were selected in April 2014, with the second wave of projects announced today.

The Fund, which offers £100m in 2015-16, is supporting a wide variety of innovative ideas including extended opening hours, more ways for patients to access services and new services to better support patients with complex needs.