A BOXING Day pilot scheme to open surgeries has been hailed a success by health chiefs.

Thirty out of the 50 GP practices across Bolton and 10 pharmacies 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.

As a result, two thirds of Bolton’s population had access to their GP for urgent medical complaints or concerns about minor illnesses, colds and viruses on the bank holiday.

And 89 people were able to see their GP, meaning the out of hours service BARDOC received about 50 per cent fewer referrals, than other out of hours services across Greater Manchester.

Dr Barry Silvert, clinical director for integrated commiss-ioning at the CCG, said: “NHS Bolton Clinical Commissioning Group received an excellent response from GP practices when we asked them to help us to test this new initiative. The CCG is committed to ensuring that patients are seen by the right person, at the right place and time. This is essential if we are to improve patient safety and the quality of care.

“For more minor illnesses and injuries the right person will often be a GP, but there are suitable alternatives when the practice is closed, such as the local pharmacist or the GP out of hours service.

“A&E should not be used for this purpose, otherwise we risk putting huge pressure on a vital and highly valued resource in our borough.”

This new announce-ment 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. For deatilsabout winter healthcare, go to: boltonhealthchoices.com