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GPs trialling Patient Access model save £300,000

A practice trialling a pioneering access model under which GPs triage patients and book their appointments has saved hundreds of thousands of pounds in locum and salaried GP costs.

The three-partner practice in Leicester introduced the system last summer and immediately saw its average time from booking to appointment fall from 5.5 days to just over one day.

Under the Patient Access method, patients telephone their practice and GPs then call them back as soon as possible, with an emphasis on dealing with the problem the same day.

Dr Kam Singh said his ‘under-funded' practice had been running at peak capacity with a ballooning list size, and was on the point of taking on another salaried GP. Instead it switched to the Patient Access model and as a result has saved around £80,000 by not hiring a salaried GP, and cut its locum bills from £250,000 in one year to less than £2,000 the next.

Dr Singh said: ‘Appointments are our fundamental resource, so why give them to the least senior person – the receptionist? There's a bit of a game played by salaried doctors to book yourself easy stuff like a blood pressure. That game has stopped because the partners manage all the appointments, so a blood pressure would go to the healthcare assistant.'

Harry Longman, a spokesperson for Patient Access, a social enterprise set up by GPs, said 43 UK practices were signed up.

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