A further CCG has proposed for all GP surgeries to offer seven-day services in a bid to ease the pressures on A & E services during the winter period.
North Durham CCG followed the lead of CCGs in the North West in calling for its 31 practices to provide services over the weekend, and 28 practices have already confirmed their involvement.
The CCG said it would be providing up to £1m for practices, who would receive funding based on their opening hours, including Sunday opening, which has been taken up by 25% of practices. Practices will also ‘cross-cover’ for other practices, allowing patients to be seen in neighbouring practices when their own is not open.
North Durham CCG piloted the scheme with practices between November and February last year, the evaluation of which found that patient experience was ‘excellent’.
Dr Neil O’Brien, the chief clinical officer of the North Durham CCG, said that A&E nurses in North Durham are able to book patients into their GP practice if they believe that is the best course of treatment.
He added: ‘What we are trying to do is build up that capacity in general practice, managing that cultural shift in primary care to think about the move towards a more seven-day service and also just nudging primary care to integrating more with 111 and A&E as well.’
The CCG has also allocated £2m to the County Durham and Darlington NHS Foundation Trust. Dr O’Brien said ‘This is our strategy for using current money to manage the immediate burden, I mean we had a situation last year there was 15 to 20 ambulances queuing outside our main hospital and that’s just not acceptable, so we are looking at short term measures this year to put in to ensure that that does not happen again.’