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East Lancashire GPs urged to bid for share of £50m pot
GP surgeries in East Lancashire are being encouraged to bid for a share of a new £50million funding pot to allow them to offer weekend and evening appointments.
The government has set the cash aside to try to improve access to doctors and ease pressure on A&E departments.
Prime Minister David Cameron said he wanted surgeries to be open from 8am to 8pm, seven days a week, to counter complaints that working people find it hard to get seen by a family doctor.
The extra cash is being offered to GP surgeries in every region which propose the most effective ways to improve access, and would then pilot the scheme.
Russ McLean, chairman of the Pennine Lancashire Patient Voices Group, said: “I would certainly hope that East Lancs surgeries bid for some of this money and be part of this trial.
“We are very forward-thinking here.
“But £50million is a drop in the ocean isn’t it.
“Whether it’s going to put any dent in A&E attendances, I’m not altogether convinced.”
As well as extended surgery hours, ministers hope the scheme will pioneer more effective use of technology – such as carrying out consultations with patients via video calls, e-mail and phone.
Electronic prescriptions, online appointment booking and allowing people to visit a number of different surgeries across an area are also measures being sought from the first wave.
Extended hours have already been successfully piloted at six practices in Greater Manchester.
Most East Lancashire practices offer some extended opening outside the core hours of 8am until 6.30pm Monday to Friday, but this currently averages at three hours per week for a single practice.
Mr Cameron said: “We also want greater flexibility, so people can speak to their family doctor on the phone, send them an e-mail or even speak to them on Skype.”
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