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Thousands of extra GP appointments for patients in Norfolk thanks to funding boost to ease pressure on hospitals

Dr Simon Cooke helps a patient (posed by model).

Dr Simon Cooke helps a patient (posed by model).

Archant

Thousands of extra appointments are to be laid on for patients at doctors’ surgeries across Norfolk this winter, to help ease the pressure on hospitals.

More than 80 practices across the county will provide almost 12,000 extra appointments between now and March, to stop people heading to hospital accident and emergency units.

The move, which comes amid a national row over the state of the NHS, has been made possible because of a £600,000 grant through NHS winter resilience funding.

It will mean practices can provide a few extra appointments each day. For instance, some practices will be offering extra clinics on Fridays or use the money to book a locum for a couple of mornings a week.

While the extra appointments at each practice will be relatively modest, collectively it will mean:

In Norwich, 23 practices will be providing some 3,200 extra appointments to patients

In South Norfolk, 23 practices will offer about 3,700 extra appointments

In North Norfolk, 19 practices will provide approximately 3,500 extra appointments

In West Norfolk, 20 surgeries will make about 2,500 extra appointments available.

Dr Simon Cooke, a GP in Norwich and chair of OneNorwich – the new alliance of GP practices in the city – said: “GP practices are doing their bit to help a growing number of patients who feel unwell because of winter – and help ease the pressure on the wider NHS that it is always under.”

Availability of extra appointments will vary from practice to practice and from day to day, depending on what staff are available.

It comes after the British Red Cross said the NHS was facing a “humanitarian crisis” – a claim which was denied by ministers, with health secretary Jeremy Hunt insisting the service was coping well given high demand.

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