GP Extended Access service – FAQs
NHS Lincolnshire West Clinical Commissioning Group is set to roll out extended access to routine GP appointments by October. Below are some frequently asked questions and answers.
Why are extended hours appointments being made available?
Not all patients can attend pre-bookable appointments during normal GP Practice hours. Extended hours will provide more opportunities for patients to attend routine appointments.
For urgent matters, patients can continue to access their own GP Practice during normal hours. For evenings, weekends, and bank holidays, use the Out of Hours Services at Lincoln County Hospital via NHS 111 or the Minor Injuries Unit at John Coupland Hospital.
Pharmacies also offer health advice and treatment without an appointment.
What benefits/incentives are there to GP Practices in offering extended access?
Additional resources have been made available by NHS England to fund local extended access. Depending on the types of appointments and services offered during extended hours, practices may also receive additional funding.
Extended hours will provide more opportunities for patients to attend routine appointments.
Are the extended access appointments a direct replacement for the Walk-in Centre? By rolling them out, are you admitting the Walk-in Centre shouldn’t have closed?
No. NHS England has directed that CCGs must ensure extended access appointments are available to 100% of their patient population by October 1, 2018. This means that the extended access appointments would have been rolled out whether the Walk-in Centre was open or not.
These are different types of appointments as extended hours appointments must be pre-booked which is different to the walk in access that was provided at the Walk-in Centre.
Why couldn’t you have just left the Walk in Centre open instead of offering extended access?
Patients who previously used the Walk in Centre for urgent matters can continue to access their own GP Practice during normal hours, or for evenings, weekends, and bank holidays, the Out of Hours Services at Lincoln County Hospital via NHS 111 or the Minor Injuries Unit at John Coupland Hospital.
Planned pre-booked appointments are a more effective use of NHS resources as opposed to walk in and wait appointments as it allows services to plan better and ensure clinical time is used in the most appropriate way.
Pharmacies offer health advice and treatment without an appointment.
NHS 111 and the NHS Choices website also offer health advice and guidance 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
Extended access is for pre-bookable appointments only.
Why should we take part in the survey when you ignored people’s views about the walk in centre?
During the walk in centre public consultation people told us they didn’t agree with our proposals because they didn’t know enough about or were not convinced by the alternatives. We agreed to delay the closure of the walk in centre until after the winter period so we could raise more awareness of and further enhance the alternatives. The views people shared during the consultation, not just within the survey but the countless conversations we had whilst out speaking to people helped us to do this.
Why you are restricting the types of appointments that could be accessed during extended hours?
The examples given in the survey for the type of appointments that could be provided during extended hours are purely examples to give people an idea of what appointments might be available. The actual types of appointments to be provided will be determined by local demand.
If I am offered an appointment at another GP practice, will GPs and other medical staff have access to my medical records?
Yes, they will have access to your medical records via their secure online clinical systems if you have booked an appointment with this service. However you will be asked to give your consent to your record being accessed by GPs and other medical staff.
I want to see GPs and other medical staff from my own GP Practice who knows me and my medical history. How will extended access benefit me?
We are working with local GP’s to determine how the extended access service will be delivered, therefore patients who wish to book extended hours appointments may be seen by GPs and other medical staff from their own GP Practice. However these appointments may only be available on certain evenings or weekends and patients may have to travel to another local GP Practice or central GP Practice hub if they would like an evening or weekend appointment.
Patients who want to see GPs and other medical staff from their own GP Practice can continue to book appointments during normal opening hours.
What if I cannot travel to another GP Practice or central GP Practice hub?
Patients who cannot travel to another GP Practice or central GP Practice hub can continue to book appointments at their own GP Practice during normal opening hours.
We will also be working with GP Practices and their Patient Participation Groups to identify whether they are able to provide a patient-led volunteer transport scheme.
There is already a shortage of GPs and other medical staff; won’t this just add more stress to already struggling GP Practices?
Individual GP Practices will not be expected to cover all extended hours appointments at evenings, weekends, and bank holidays by themselves.
It is anticipated the extended hours service will be delivered by a collaboration of GP Practices. Each practice will contribute staffing and resources towards the overall delivery of the service.
You don’t say which local GP Practices patients may have to travel to or where the central GP Practice hub will be located?
We have not yet decided how the extended access service will be delivered; therefore feedback from the survey will help us to shape the service.
We will also take into consideration how accessible current GP Practices are and any potential location for a central hub.