HEALTH chiefs will inject £2 million into innovative GP pilot schemes in Bolton — including the extension of GP opening hours and improvements to technology.

The NHS Bolton Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) has announced plans to test out 26 new ideas put forward by GP practices as part of the Primary Care Innovation Fund.

More than 100 GP practices applied for the cash and had to submit a bid to a panel made up of a board member and a member of the public.

Su Long, chief officer at the CCG, said GP services will be central to plans to create an integrated health and social care system in Bolton within the CCG’s budget.

Ms Long added: “At NHS Bolton Clinical Commissioning Group, our vision for Bolton is to have joined-up health and social care, with more services provided in the community. To provide a seamless service that supports people in their own home, we will need to shift NHS resources from hospital based care.

“High quality services provided by local GPs will be central to this shift. We know this is a priority for Bolton people, so we’ve made savings elsewhere that allow us to invest in improving primary care provision.

“It was extremely difficult to select just 26 of the bids we received, as they were all of a very high calibre.

“This is a real testament to the vision and dedication of our GP teams in Bolton and bodes well for the future of primary care in the borough.”

The CCG said it cannot name the GP practices testing out the pilot schemes but say some are trialling extended opening hours, whilst others will look at improving care for older patients with complex conditions.

Technology improvements are also being piloted such as a new app to help patients decide where to go for minor illnesses and injuries and remote access to patient records.

The innovation fund ties in with the CCG’s effort to reduce the number of hospital admissions.

Successful pilot projects will be rolled out across the borough.