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Featured Wednesday, Dec 5 2018

Thousands access additional appointments locally as part of drive to improve patient access to general practice

Over 29,000 people accessed additional appointments with GPs and other healthcare professionals locally, during weekends and evenings, over a six month period.

A total of 29,037 ‘extended access’ appointments were booked for patients across East Berkshire between the months of April and September this year.

Commissioned by NHS East Berkshire Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), the appointments are part of a national initiative to improve access to general practice, by allowing people who find it difficult to take time off work or have other commitments during daytime hours to be seen.

The appointments are provided* centrally in each of the three localities within the CCG area – Slough; Windsor, Ascot and Maidenhead (WAM); and Bracknell and Ascot – and are for routine general practice issues only and not for urgent care. If urgent care is required, people should call NHS 111 for advice.

Katerina Nash, Senior Commissioning Manager for GP Access Fund for East Berkshire Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) said: “The aim of offering additional appointments outside of normal general practice opening hours is to provide patients with more convenient access to general practice routine appointments.

“It is also hoped that these additional appointments with local GPs, nurses, healthcare assistants and phlebotomists (blood test), will help to relieve pressure in general practice and help patients to continue to receive high quality care in the community.

She added: “Extended access appointments are in addition to some local practices offering in-house ‘Extended Hours’ appointments for their patients.”

People must be registered with a GP surgery locally in order to access the additional appointments available, which can only be booked in advance through their own GP practice. The service cannot accept walk-in patients.

Here is some feedback from local residents who have recently used the service:

“This is an excellent service and brilliant for patients.  Nurses are calm, patient and understanding giving an efficient service, which frees up nurses and doctors appointments at their own practice, ideal, a win win all round.” Nita Patel (57)

“The GP’s I saw were able to find out what was wrong with me, they did a really good job and I would definitely recommend this service.” Miss Samantha Buxton (26)

“The service I have received from Berkshire Primary Care has been exemplary.  If there were any problems with my appointments I received a phone call beforehand to rearrange.  The nurses have been wonderful, no complaints at all from my end , in fact they each deserve a medal.” Mr Wesley Theunissen (37)

To find out more about how you can access evening and weekend GP appointments, please speak to your GP practice in the first instance.

You can also find useful information by visiting our CCG website: https://www.eastberkshireccg.nhs.uk/local-services/extended-access-appointments-gp-services/

*The CCG has commissioned Berkshire Primary Care Ltd to provide the additional appointments for Bracknell and Ascot locality;  Bharani Medical Centre for Slough locality; and East Berkshire Primary Care Out Of Hours for Windsor, Ascot and Maidenhead locality.