GP surgeries encouraged to extend hours

HEALTH bosses are seeking to encourage 12 GP surgeries in the county to join their colleagues in offering extended hours.

Naomi Gornall

HEALTH bosses are seeking to encourage 12 GP surgeries in the county to join their colleagues in offering extended hours.

The large majority, 56 out of 68 surgeries, are currently offering the service but there are still a few remaining ones which have not signed up to it.

In April last year NHS Suffolk commissioned extended opening hours for GP surgeries, as directed by the Department of Health. This service is for routine booked appointments outside the regular opening hours of 8am to 6.30pm.

In a report presented to NHS Suffolk Board by Julian Herbert, deputy chief executive, he stated: “There is a very good provision of extended opening hours across NHS Suffolk with 56 practices offering this service. The remaining 12 practices not currently offering this service are being encouraged and supported so that all NHS Suffolk patients may benefit.”

Dr Andrew Hassan, medical director of the Board, said: “We know from talking to people that often they cannot get to a GP practice during core working hours.”

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Feedback from patients of practices with extended hours is positive, it was reported. Later this year a survey will be carried out among patients of practices not signed up to the service to assess whether there is a demand for it.

Dr Janet Massey, a Felixstowe GP, asked for more flexibility from the PCT, either on the phone or in person, to provide advice for doctors after hours or to give results.

She said: “For some of the rural practices they are set up to do extra hours. We would like to see the PCT extend their hours too.”

It was also noted in the report GP practices in the county have the highest average level of overall patient satisfaction with access to GP services in the East of England.

It also reported that significant progress has been made by many practices to reduce their prescribing spend and decrease the volumes of antibiotic prescribing.

It stated: “In general across NHS Suffolk, GP practices achieve excellent levels of patient satisfaction which reflects the hard work by GP practice staff in this area. There are a number of practices not yet achieving these levels and NHS Suffolk is working with them to accelerate the progress.”

The GP practices not offering extended hours service are: Alderton Surgery, Alderton: Brandon Medical Practice, Brandon; Church Farm Surgery, Aldeburgh; Constable Country Rural Practice, East Bergholt; Deben Road Surgery, Ipswich; Lakenheath Surgery, Lakenheath; Lattice Barn Surgery, Ipswich; Leiston Surgery, Leiston; Orchard Street Medical Practice, Ipswich; Saxmundham Health Centre, Saxmundham; The Norwich Road Surgery, Ipswich; Wickhambrook Surgery, Wickhambrook

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