New £3m bid to expand evening and weekend GP services in Sheffield

GP opening hours in Sheffield could soon be extended
GP opening hours in Sheffield could soon be extended
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Three new out-of-hours GP practices could be opened in Sheffield this summer in a bid to extend access to care at evenings and weekends.

Health chiefs in the city are bidding for more than £10m of NHS England cash to fund a series of improvements to primary care in Sheffield.

It is hoped around £3m could be spent on opening three existing practices in Sheffield at evenings and weekends for an initial 12-month trial, potentially starting this summer.

City health bosses are hoping to secure a share of £100m of national funding available for 2015/16.

Currently there is only one out-of-hours practice in the city, based on the grounds of the Northern General Hospital. If the proposal wins funding, three existing city practices could open for extended hours at evenings and weekends to ease pressure on A&E.

It is yet to be confirmed which city practices would be used.

If the trial is a success, money from the city’s health budgets could be allocated to support the scheme on a permanent basis.

The scheme has been developed by the Sheffield GP Provider Board, which covers the 87 practices in the city.

A report by Dr Andrew Hilton, lead director for the GP Provider Board, said the new satellite units would be able to provide phone advice, urgent care appointments and home visits. The scheme could potentially increase GP opening hours in the city by 28 per cent.

Dr Hilton said: “This figure is based on data provided by the Local Area Team of GP opening hours which showed GP practices in Sheffield were accessible for a total of 3,646 hours per week. Having three satellite units open 6:30-10:00pm weekdays and 10:00am-6:00pm weekends would equate to the potential additional 1,200 hours.”

Funding is also being sought for enhanced specialist mental health support at weekends and improved weekend and evening access to pharmacy services.