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Seven day GP access scheme in Yorkshire is abandoned owing to lack of demand

BMJ 2015; 350 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.h3279 (Published 16 June 2015) Cite this as: BMJ 2015;350:h3279
  1. Gareth Iacobucci
  1. 1The BMJ

A pilot scheme designed to test the government’s plans for seven day access to routine general practice services is to be discontinued because of a lack of demand from patients.

NHS Hambleton, Richmondshire and Whitby Clinical Commissioning Group in North Yorkshire has decided not to continue its seven day opening scheme beyond 30 June, after an evaluation found little appetite among patients to attend weekend clinics. Commissioners decided that patients would be better served if resources were directed to other areas, such as community nursing and support for patients with long term conditions.

The scheme, which was operated by a federation of local general practices using a “hub” model, was one of the 20 first wave of pilot schemes launched in 2014 to test new ways to improve access to primary care services in England. It was funded by the prime minister’s challenge fund as part of the government’s drive to introduce seven day access to routine GP services in all areas of England by 2020.1 A further 37 second wave pilot schemes are due to begin shortly.

NHS England said that other first wave pilot areas would decide whether to offer weekend and evening opening when most schemes end in September 2015.

Greater Manchester recently announced that it would become the first area to roll out seven day access to routine GP services by the end of 2015, after an evaluation of its local pilot schemes showed a 3% reduction in emergency department activity.2

A national spokesperson for NHS England said, “The prime minister’s challenge fund established pilots to trial a wide variety of innovative ways of improving access to general practice. Some approaches will, and should, be adjusted to match what has proven to be most effective for the local population.”

Commenting on the North Yorkshire scheme, Julie Warren, locality director for NHS England’s North Yorkshire and Humber area team, said, “Conversations are ongoing between the providers and CCGs [clinical commissioning groups] to identify what has worked well and will continue. The aim of this is to take forward the aspects that have been successful so we can provide a better overall service for the patients of Hambleton, Richmondshire, and Whitby.”

Reacting to the news on Twitter, Richard Vautrey, deputy chair of the BMA’s General Practitioners Committee and a GP in Leeds, wrote, “7 day routine service was not what patients wanted. Time to start listening and make better use of scarce NHS funding.”

Notes

Cite this as: BMJ 2015;350:h3279

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