GPs open doors to non-registered patients at weekends as 'viable alternative' to A&E
GPs in central London will run walk-in clinics for non-registered patients on both days over the weekend, under a CCG scheme to provide a ‘viable alternative’ to A&E.
NHS Central London CCG is hoping to tackle A&E pressures by funding three Westminster GP practices to offer a Saturday and Sunday walk-in clinic.
The move sees the CCG joining the growing number of commissioners hoping to reduce A&E pressures by funding seven-day GP services. But this service, commissioned for Westminster only, will not require patients to be registered at the practice to access a GP or a nurse on the weekend.
The three practices taking part in the new scheme are The Connaught Square Practice and the Westminster and Pimlico Health Centre, which will both stay open Saturday and Sunday, from 10am to 6pm, and the North West London Medical Centre, which will stay open Saturday and Sunday 8am to 4pm.
The CCG said patients will be able to access the service without an appointment and using it will not affect their registration with their own GP. It also said the practices taking part will also accept redirections from A&E departments and urgent care centres where this is clinically appropriate.
NHS Central London CCG chair Dr Ruth O’Hare said: ‘Statistics show that most patients attend A&E when their GP practice is closed, even if they don’t have a life-threatening illness. The tough message we want to send to these patients is that they are increasing the pressure on hospital services, which are there to help those who are more seriously sick or injured.
‘As we head into winter, when demand increases even further, we need to ensure that people are using services appropriately and that they don’t go to A&E with an illness or injury that can be treated by a GP or pharmacist.’
‘We recognise that, in order to stop people from going to A&E unnecessarily, we need to improve access to primary care services so that they have a viable alternative. We hope that this service provides this alternative, and that people who feel they need to see a GP over the weekend will go to the walk-in service offered by these practices in the first instance.’