A new shake-up of health services is being made across Horsham, Crawley and Mid Sussex.
New GP ‘access hubs’ have opened across the district and a pilot ‘paramedic practioner’ service will be launched in January.
The GP hubs are aimed at providing additional doctor appointments for residents who are ‘generally well’ but need to see a doctor.
The hubs opened in November and are based in Horsham, Crawley, Haywards Heath, Burgess Hill and East Grinstead.
The Horsham area GP hub is based at The Village Surgery in Southwater. In Crawley, hubs are based at Leacroft Medical Practice, Langley Green and at Southgate Medical group.
There are also GP hubs at The Avenue, Burgess Hill; Dolphins Practice, Haywards Heath, and Cuckfield Medical Practice.There is also a hub at the Queen Victoria Hospital in East Grinstead.
A spokesman for the Horsham, Crawley and Mid Sussex Clinical Commissioning Group - which is responsible for paying for and monitoring local health services - said: “The extra appointments are aimed at people who are generally well, who have access to transport and do not need a continuing conversation about their health, and so can see someone who is not their usual GP.
“Patients continue to contact their own GP surgery, and if they fit the criteria they may be are offered an appointment in their local hub.”
From January, a pilot paramedic practioner service will begin across the district with paramedics providing home visits to patients with frailty, on behalf of GP practices.
The paramedics will work in different parts of urgent and emergency care while remaining employed by the ambulance service.
There will be five paramedic practitioners, one working across all the GP practices in Burgess Hill, Crawley, East Grinstead, Haywards Heath and Horsham. The pilot home visiting service is scheduled to start in January and run for 18 months.
Meanwhile, other paramedic practitioners will also work shifts in the ambulance service’s Crawley call centre, and respond to 999 calls to see patients with immediately life threatening and more complex needs who, say health chiefs, ‘will benefit most from their extended scope of practice.’
The CCG spokesman added: “Robust evaluation of the pilot aims to establish patient and staff experience of satisfaction with the new arrangements, as well as the impact on usage of ambulance services and hospital - and community- based care, and GP time.”
Details of the shake-up were revealed following questions in parliament by Mid Sussex MP Sir Nicholas Soames who asked what steps were being taken to increase capacity in general practice in West Sussex.
Health Department spokesman Steve Brine said the Government had committed nationally to 5,000 additional doctors in general practice and 5,000 other staff in general practice; and by March 2019 everyone having improved access to GP services, including sufficient routine appointments at evenings and weekends to meet locally determined demand.
“In West Sussex and Mid Sussex, the clinical commissioning groups have opened GP access hubs in East Grinstead, Burgess Hill, Haywards Heath, Crawley and Horsham to provide additional appointments in primary care,” he said.
“Horsham and Mid Sussex CCG is exploring alternative skill mix in primary care to deliver additional capacity and are piloting paramedic practitioners in each town from January 2018. It has also applied to be part of a national programme for international recruitment of GPs.”