Changes to Norfolk’s out-of-hours care

Changes are being made to Norfolk's out-of-hours GP service, with health bosses saying they are investing �1m in making improvements.

The changes will include moving the out-of-hours GP base from Diss to Long Stratton, and the bases in Thetford and North Walsham will also move to other premises in each town.

NHS Norfolk and Waveney says the alterations, which will come into effect in September, are being made to improve access for patients.

It says moving the GP base from Roydon Road in Diss to Long Stratton will mean no patient in South Norfolk will have to drive more than 30 minutes to access care.

The Thetford GP base will move from Grove Road Surgery to the larger Thetford Healthy Living Centre, where there is a public pharmacy on site, while the base in North Walsham and District War Memorial Hospital will move to North Walsham's Birchwood Medical Practice, which has recently extended its premises and which also has a public pharmacy.

The Norfolk out-of-hours service is run by the East of England Ambulance Service and covers all of the county except Great Yarmouth and Waveney.

The service has existing fixed bases operating in Norwich, King's Lynn, Fakenham and Dereham. There are also mobile units which enable home visits to be made to patients for whom this is deemed appropriate.

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Ambulance service associate director Lyn Reynolds said: 'We will continue to employ local family doctors to provide medical help out-of-hours together with a team of highly experienced emergency care practitioners.

'Patients will really feel the benefit of the new base at Long Stratton which is much better for the wider community. It has modern facilities and better integration with local family GPs in a large practice and it will now mean that any patient living in South Norfolk will be able to reach an out-of-hours service within a 30-minute drive.'

NHS Norfolk and Waveney awarded a new three-year contract to EEAST in March, to run for three years from September 1, 2012. The total investment is close to �7m.

The out-of-hours period runs from 6.30pm to 8am, Monday to Thursday, from 6.30pm on Friday evenings to 8am on Monday mornings, and throughout each Bank Holiday. If patients need GP care out-of-hours they should call their own family doctor's number first and wait for instructions.

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