VIDEO: GP practices to open at evenings and weekends in Sheffield to ease A&E burden

Northern General Hospital A&E department, Sheffield.
Northern General Hospital A&E department, Sheffield.
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Five Sheffield GP practices are to open new out-of-hours services at evenings and weekends in a bid to ‘ease the burden’ on A&E.

The city is being provided with £9.7m through the Prime Minister’s Challenge Fund.

It comes as new figures showed casualty target times are continuing to be missed in Sheffield.

Only 89.7 per cent of patients were seen within four hours at the Northern General Hospital’s A&E unit in January - below the national 95 per cent target.

Five surgeries across the city will run the new services, in addition to the out-of-hours practice already operating at the Northern General Hospital.

The sites could open until 10pm on weekdays and between 10am and 6pm on weekends.

It has not yet been announced which practices will be used, but the extended opening hours are due to start this summer.

Dr Tim Moorhead, chairman of the NHS Sheffield Clinical Commissioning Group, said: “This is great news for patients in Sheffield and a fantastic opportunity for Sheffield GPs to lead the way in using an integrated approach to enable patients to get the right care, at the right time and in the right place, as well as helping to ease the burden on our A&E departments. The bid aligns with our aims to bring care closer to home and to transform urgent care so as to reduce unnecessary attendance at A&E.”

The money has been secured by the Sheffield GP Provider Board, who had bid for around £11m in funding from a national pot of £100m available for 2015/16. If the trial is a success, money from the city’s health budgets could be allocated to support the extra opening hours on a permanent basis.

Some of the grant will also be spent on community nursing services to help support patients at home, as well as investing in IT systems to improve communication between GP practices and the wider health and social care system.

Dr Andrew Hilton, chief executive at the Sheffield GP Provider Board, said: “We are delighted to have been awarded this money as it will enable us to significantly improve patient access to GP services, particularly at evenings and weekends at a number of locations across the city.”

A recent audit by Sheffield CCG found about 11 per cent of adults and 40 per cent of children who use the city’s urgent care services could actually be treated by GPs.