Norfolk and Suffolk miss out on government pilot to extend GP opening hours - here’s what it means for you

NHS Timber Hill health centre
, one of the few GP surgeries that offer out of hours opening. NHS Timber Hill health centre , one of the few GP surgeries that offer out of hours opening.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014
11:13 AM

A question mark has been raised about a new government scheme to extend GP opening hours after it emerged that not a single practice in East Anglia would benefit from extra funding.

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David Cameron will today announce that 7.5 million people in England will be offered increased access to more than 1,000 GP surgeries with seven day opening and 8am to 8pm appointments.

However, officials from the Department of Health and NHS England admitted that services in Norfolk, Suffolk and Cambridgeshire would not be receiving any money from the Prime Minister’s £50m GP Access Fund.

The nearest place in the East of England to benefit from the funding to extend practice opening hours is in Watford.

However, government officials said more than 90,000 elderly people in the region were set to benefit from a separate Transforming Primary Care programme, which equates to £500 per person, to ensure people with the most complex needs have a named GP responsible for their care, regularly-reviewed independent care plans, and same-day access to a GP when they need it.

The government will today announce that it will support 1,147 practices in England during a pilot to offer extra services for those who struggle to find appointments that fit in with their family and work life.

Health minister Norman Lamb, who is also MP for North Norfolk, said he would be asking Department of Health officials to find out why no East Anglian GPs were included in the scheme.

Clive Lewis, Labour prospective parliamentary candidate for Norwich South, said the initiative appeared to be “ill thought out” by missing out a large part of the region.

“Any increase in resources for local communities to get better access to GP services is the best way to keep people out of hospital beds, but I would ask how many knew about the money? It would make sense to distribute the pot of money across the country and this seems like a bit of a shambles. The Health and Social Care Bill has caused chaos in the NHS and this is throwing sticking plasters at the problems,” he said.

Only a handful of GP surgeries in Norfolk offer regular appointments at weekends or after 6pm on week days.

However, a spokesman for NHS England said that those missing out from the GP funding announcement did not apply or were unsuccessful because large population areas had been chosen for the pilot scheme.

Mr Lamb said a move towards more personalised care for the most vulnerable people was a boost for local patients.

“This is a very big change of approach to provide much better care for frail older people and it is all tied in with the Better Care Fund that comes in 2015/16 to try and pool budgets between health and social care to provide a much more coherent, coordinated, joined up approach and avoid older people ending up in hospital unnecessarily because of a crisis in care.”

“It is what many people in health and social care have been crying out for for a long time and I am very pleased we are doing it,” he said.

The government added that other GP services will be rolled out from May into next year to help treat more people in the community.

They include electronic prescriptions and online booking of appointments, joining-up of urgent care and out-of-hours care to ensure rapid walk-in access to care, better access to ‘telecare’ to help sick people stay comfortable at home, and offering paramedics, A&E doctors and care homes a dedicated hotline to advise how to treat patients quicker.

However, unions have questioned whether overstretched GP practices would have the resources to provide extended opening hours in the long term.

Chaand Nagpaul, chairman of the British Medical Association’s General Practice Committee, said: “We must ensure that practices have the flexibility to tailor their opening times appropriately for their local population, and this must not be at the expense of their availability to those most vulnerable patients in greatest need. Outside of those signed up to the pilot, there will still be close to 7,000 GP practices across the country who will not be receiving extra support to improve patient access or maintain current services. Furthermore, given that this funding is only for one year, there is no assurance of these changes being affordable in future years.”

Do you have problems getting a GP appointment? Email adam.gretton@archant.co.uk

15 comments

  • No surprise here then - we're always the last!

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    biglingers

    Tuesday, April 15, 2014

  • Mine already opens 8 to 8 one day a week and 8 to 6.30 on all the other days. Its east to get a non urgent appointment or order repeat prescriptions by using the online services. So if one surgery can get it right why can`t all the others.

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    BG

    Tuesday, April 15, 2014

  • East Anglia has lost out because it is safe Tory territory and Camoron et al knows his useless bunch of "yes men" (and women) MPs will get re- elected come what may.

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    Tractorboy

    Tuesday, April 15, 2014

  • Just under a year ago I changed my doctor from claydon to needham market , I can only say it was the best thing I have ever done on the odd occasion I have asked to see a doctor urgent they have fitted me in at a fixed time on that day,as for the extra funding I bet it goes to places that this conservative (being ran by the liberals )so called government wants to win seats at the next election

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    pandy

    Tuesday, April 15, 2014

  • I agree Dave01 - DONT CALL 111 as you will just end up in hospital. It's not the fault of the ambulance service, they cant prescribe medication, nor can they leave you in a medical predicament so they are forced to take you to hospital, which isn't fair on them either as its completely inappropriate!!! This is typical of this government. We live in an area highly populated by the pensioners who cost more in the care they need as they get older - they don't like that so they want all old people to die younger. Easiest way to make sure this happens is not to supply the services they need!!! I might be cynical but it's experience that has made me this way!!!

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    Grumbly Ol' Git

    Monday, April 14, 2014

  • I have analysed the situation, comfort zone, easy money, no ethics....QED and a sprinkle of arrogance ....... Just perfect for I could not care less attitude..... Can I have my pension now?,, oh patients? S*d the interfering b@st@rds, they got past our complicated system and OMG someone has Asked for an appointment, red alert to All GPs ... Someone has asked for an appointment... oOMG!,!!!!

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    Dave01

    Monday, April 14, 2014

  • I just don't understand why GP's who earn c.£100,000 a year can't work a rota system like care workers who cover 247 earn about £7.an hour

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    petential@aol.com

    Monday, April 14, 2014

  • See, it isn't just me! The GP service has become a process driven joke.... It needs to change .... Bringing back common sense will be the first step...can I book an appointment to be ill in 4 weeks time? Duh!

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    Dave01

    Monday, April 14, 2014

  • Update, I rang in total 40 times to get through, actually managed using a home line rather than a mobile, was told at 8.20, no appointments available, was it urgent? I didn't say what my problems were, and said yes, and been told come at 11.30 and sit and wait! Repeating that it will be a long wait! Long gone the days when you could ring your gp at weekends and see someone from your surgery and if poorly enough a home visit!

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    Lisab

    Monday, April 14, 2014

  • Catty. There are far too many receptionists (Doctors, Schools, Companies) who like to think they are above everyone else and play God. Just ask their names, and threaten report them to the relevent authorities, and then if they still do not put you through, make an appointment, then report them. They are nothing but bullies who do not like having the tables turned on them.

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    "V"

    Monday, April 14, 2014

  • I don't think my GP has any interest or inclination to open at a weekend - its tough enough to get an appt during the week! I agree with Lisab, and would add that if you are lucky enough to be connected at the 8am speed dial contest, you then have to diagnose yourself to a RECEPTIONIST who will then see if you are deemed worthy enough for a 'sit and wait' appointment. Its ridiculous!

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    Catty

    Monday, April 14, 2014

  • I needed a gp over the weekend , but because of the severity of my symptoms the out of hours would send to hospital and unnecessary admissions! I'll try and get a appointment this morning with my gp, knowing that at 8.01, i'll get a engaged tone for a hour, when finally getting through and find all appointments gone, and get please ring back tomorrow!

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    Lisab

    Monday, April 14, 2014

  • Another post code lottery, why should East Anglia lose out

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    Derek McDonald

    Monday, April 14, 2014

  • Dear old Norman was in the Mail yesterday defending the government's closure of more hospital wards. Apparently it's good news for the patient. I guess he'd say that whatever the outcome.

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    Jeffrey Osborne

    Monday, April 14, 2014

  • We have a pilot scheme here already in Lowestoft..Called 111, you call, fill in on telephone form 1, by which time you can't breath, they phone you back, fill in form 2 even though you explain the problem , they phone you back a doctor says we will get a clinical advisor to give you a call, a nurse calls back, you explain the symptoms and medication you need, they say we will send an ambulance, I say not needing ambulance just an out of ours doctor, no they say an ambulance, I say no, they say one to check on you, I say can I just see a doctor? 2 hours later, get a chance to see out of hours doctor at regional surgery! The 111 thing is a joke and no wonder a&e have so many referrals. .. I was ok just needed simple tablet... Took me several hours to convince them and the whole experience was bizarre..please bring back sensible out of hours doctors...

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    Dave01

    Monday, April 14, 2014

The views expressed in the above comments do not necessarily reflect the views of this site

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