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Extended GP opening has ‘no immediate correlation’ to A&E use, CCGs find

Geography seems to have more impact on the number of patients attending A&E than extended practice opening hours, CCGs have found.

A report publishd by NHS Mansfield and Ashfield CCG and NHS Newark and Sherwood CCG said there was ‘no immediate correlation’ between extended hours and the number of people turning up to A&E.

The CCGs looked at attendance records between August 2016 and July 2017 for practices offering core hours only and practices with extended hours (including both via the Extended Hours DES and CCG-commissioned extended access).

Primary care manager Paula Longden, who wrote the report, said geography seemed to have more of an impact on patients heading off to A&E, rather than extended practice hours.

She pointed out that three out of four practices in Newark offered extended hours commissioned as NHS England’s direct enhanced services yet had red-rated A&E attendances.

By contrast Sherwood practices which only offer core hours have low A&E attendance,.

In Kirkby, practices offering both NHS England-commissioned and CCG commissioned-extended hours had lower rates of A&E attendances.

The report concluded that there was ‘no immediate correlation between GP opening hours and the weighted rates of emergency department attendances’.

It said: ‘This suggests that geography plays a significant part in influencing patients decisions about which healthcare service they access.’

But the CCGs said this comes despite a patient survey, carried out by the CCGs in February, finding that 22% of patients went to A&E because they could not get an appointment with their GP.

The CCGs are starting to offer extended GP access throughout the entire area from October, and the report suggests the CCGs should promote the service to patients to ensure take up.

The CCGs are part of an NHS England new care models pilot area, testing the hospital-led primary and acute care-system model of integration between community and hopsital services.

The rollout of seven-day routine general practice

It comes as a report on winter pressures presented at NHS England’s board meeting this week said that extended GP access will be available in ‘twice as many’ CCGs as last winter, including across the whole of London.

In all, it says ‘50% of the population’ will have access to routine evening and weekend GP appointments this winter.

As of 2019, all CCGs will receive £6 per patient to roll out evening and weekend appointments across England.

Pulse revealed earlier this year that seven-day pilots have been set a target of filling at least 60% of appointments, with those falling short asked to submit plans on how they will boost demand.

And a recent Pulse investigation revealed that many Sunday GP appointments offered as part of the Government’s election manifesto commitments are going unfilled, heaping pressure on standard hours care. In one area, just 2% of appointments were booked up on a Sunday.