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Seven-day GP access pilot cuts A&E attendances 'by 10%'

An area piloting the Government’s flagship seven-day GP access scheme has made a reduction in the number of A&E attendances, claim CCG leaders.

The findings were gleaned from research based on the largest national pilot area for the PM’s Challenge Fund, based in north west London, which enabled 1.9 million patients to access GP services at weekends.

According to NHS North West London CCG, seven-day GP opening hours at four of the pilot’s Westminster surgeries resulted in:

  • almost 10% (9.9) reduction in A&E attendance over the entire week
  • an 11.5% drop in A&E admissions of patients aged 60 years and above from these surgeries.

The biggest impact on A&E attendances during the pilot was at the weekends, in cases where patients would usually have to wait until Monday to access GP appointments and in cases with a mild to moderate severity, the research concluded.

A spokeswoman for NHS North West London CCG told Pulse: ‘Seven-day opening hours were piloted at four practices for a period ranging between two to ten months. Weekend opening hours were between 10:00 – 18:00 at three practices and 08:00 – 16:00 at one.’

Another recent study found that seven-day GP access pilots brought ‘significant reductions’ in the number of A&E attendances and admissions, but concluded that seven-day opening might be most effective in ‘strategically located surgeries’.


Readers' comments (6)

  • so if you put more money and hence GPs into OOH more patients see GPs than AEs.....havent we been banging on about poorly funded OOH since 2004?

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  • Details are too vague on this article

    1. Is this sustained change? We know change in system can often show short term benefit but over longer time behaviours goes back to default

    2. Any controls to ensure the change is unique to extra access

    3. The study does not differentiate between routine and emergency access - extract in the article seems to suggest it is more emergency access that is required.....

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  • So the purpose of primary care is to make life easier in A&E?
    I really struggle with the disproportionate focus on a small part of our health care system. Vastly more people are see every day in general practice than A&E. People can't get to see a GP during the bleedin week...why not fix that first you lunatics before you wander off with your head up your arses tinkering with GP Sunday's surgeries. So what if it reduces A&E attendances at the weekend? Why is that a surprise and why is that of any real importance to the NHS as a whole? Why not spend the money on the normal core GP services and see how that impacts? Politically driven hot air and bull we've lately taken to organising the entire NHS these days. Baaa

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  • Am I missing something?

    We DO HAVE a 24/7 NHS already. How about simply turning muppets away from A&E door and problem solved and send them to OOH (if suitably staffed and funded) or pharmacist or pub or off a cliff….

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  • I am sure it will stop people pitching up with sore throats and rashes. These are not a problem for the NHS as can be sorted quickly (best by a GP in the A+E). The existing OOH home visiting services need to be improved, and the 111 triage to keep the complex elderly out.

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  • Education, education, education! If we took time to educate the NHS 'population at risk' - pretty much everyone in the UK - about how to best access services then we would avoid some of the burden on front-line healthcare services.

    As a GP AiT who regularly works in EDs it is obvious that patients don't know where to go to get healthcare advice. Last week I saw a mosquito bite and 2 wasp stings. Not 'oh-my-god-my-airway-is-closing-give-me-the-epipen' wasp stings, just simple 'ow, this hurts' wasp stings. I was kind, I was polite, I recognised that in each case the patient simply didn't know any better than to sit and wait in the ED for over 3 hours for a junior doctor to give them as much reassurance as a 5 min consult can give about an ailment that should have been self-managed. Such cases probably represent 20% of what I see.

    It is obvious to me (and believe me, I am no great intellect) that patients are unwilling / unable to self-manage relatively minor illnesses and injuries, and that they seek to transfer risk onto the NHS as rapidly as possible. Education about illness, injury, as well as when and how to access appropriate healthcare services should start at an early age - IMHO it should be part of the National Curriculum (alongside how to fill out tax returns, manage your finances, and cook healthy food for less than the price of McDonald's).

    I am post-nights so probably not articulating this concept as well as it should be.... humblest apologies!

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