GPs to work Christmas week to relieve A&E
TWO thirds of GP practices in Bolton will open on Boxing Day in a bid to drive down the number of admissions to A&E.
Thirty out of the 50 GP practices and 10 pharmacies have signed up to the new initiative to ease the pressure at the Royal Bolton Hospital on one of its busiest days of the year for admissions.
The NHS Bolton Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) says the new trial is for urgent appointments only and advises people to call the GP out of hours service number if they need treatment in the evening during the Christmas week or Boxing Day.
The 10 pharmacies will also be open to support practices and offer all patients expert advice, information, and ‘over the counter’ remedies, without an appointment.
Dr Barry Silvert, clinical director for integrated commissioning at the CCG, said: “NHS Bolton Clinical Commissioning Group is committed to ensuring that patients are seen by the right person, at the right place and time.
“For more minor illnesses and injuries the right person can be a GP or a pharmacist.
“I advise everyone to note the opening times of their practice and local pharmacy over Christmas and New Year and to use these resources, along with the GP out of hours service, rather than attending A&E. Our A&E comes under significant pressure at this time of the year, so let’s keep it for those who really need it.”
The CCG will not be publishing a list of the practices to prevent patients turning up without an emergency appointment.
On Boxing Day, patient calls to the out of hours number will be re-directed to their own GP practice, if it is open.
At other times, and if a patient’s practice is not open, the usual GP out of hours service will be available. This can include a telephone consultation, an appointment with a doctor, or a home visit, as appropriate to the nature of the patient’s condition.
This new announcement comes on the back of the CCG’s winter plan, which sets out measures to manage the increased pressure on health and social care services during the winter months.
Part of this is a campaign that aims to help the people of Bolton make the right choice this winter when it comes to urgent health care, treatment, or advice.
Yet some critics say the initiative should have been launched earlier.
Andy Morgan, who sits of the health scrutiny committee, said: “I welcome the move to extend GP out of hours but it does seem a bit last minute.
“This has been the case with a lot of the winter planning this year.”
For more information, go online to the website: boltonhealthchoices.com.
The out-of-hours service can be reached on: 0161 763 8940.
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