A PILOT scheme which saw 31 GP practices open on Boxing Day has been labelled “bonkers” by a health boss.

Dr Stephen Liversedge said the scheme, which cost more than £36,000, had produced no benefits.

The GP, who is a director on Bolton’s Care Commissioning Group (CCG), was responding to a report which found the pilot scheme did not offer value for money.

Overall 89 patients were seen and 19 home visits were made — at a cost of £334 per patient.

The majority of patients who attended a GP surgery were suffering with colds, coughs and sore throats.

The report did find that on the day, admissions to the Bolton out-of-hours service saw a reduction in activity — but there was no evidence of a reduction of admissions to the hospital’s accident and emergency department.

Dr Liversedge said: “It was absolutely bonkers and didn’t do anything at all.

“These patients could have been seen at the out-of-hours service for a tenth of the cost.”

"The money for the pilot scheme came out of the £1.9 million that Bolton’s CCG was allocated to support winter pressures.

"The CCG agreed to implement the pilot scheme after a consultation with GP practices and a review of the daily demand over previous Christmas periods.

The report found that despite a “fantastic willingness” from GPs, the scheme was “clearly not value for money”.

It was also noted that it was hard to promote the pilot effectively to Bolton people with short notice.

The report outlined a number of alternative projects for future winter pressures, including enhanced care planning for the frail, elderly and those with complex conditions before the winter period and a push to promote what times GP surgeries are contracted to be open during holiday period.

Dr Wirin Bhatiani, chairman of the CCG said: “We are now saying, don’t repeat this pilot but go away and think of alternatives, this does not prevent other ideas.”