Proposals are being considered to extend opening hours at local doctors’ surgeries at weekends and evenings.
Health chiefs are now seeking views from the public on the proposals which include keeping some surgeries open until 8pm.
The proposals are being put forward in a joint partnership between the NHS Crawley Clinical Commissioning Group and the Horsham and Mid Sussex Clinical Commissioning Group.
In an on-line survey, people are being asked how likely they would be to access GP services on weekday evenings between 6.30 and 8pm and at weekends; the kinds of services they might want to use; and to think about alternatives to ‘face to face’ consultations.
A spokesman said: “Extended access does not mean seeing your own GP every time you access one of these appointments, nor does it mean every GP working until 8pm every weekend, or that every surgery will be open during these hours. It is likely that extended access services will be shared across a local area or town, offering a mixture of pre-bookable and same day appointments.”
The patient and public survey will provide the clinical commissioning groups – which plan, buy and monitor local NHS services - with feedback on how they would prefer to access appointments on weekday evenings and at weekends.
Lead GP for Horsham and Mid Sussex Clinical Commissioning Group Dr Minesh Patel said: “The NHS is under pressure like never before and we can all agree that services need to change and adapt in response to increasing demand and as people’s lifestyles change too. We think extending GP practice services into the evenings and at weekends, across a local area, will go some way to meeting the needs of our local population”.
“This is just one example of how we seek to improve access to health and care, given the resources available within our community. But while we want to provide patients with a wide range of appointment times to choose from, we must also ensure that we make the best use of every health pound we spend locally and the reality is that our budgets are limited and we have rising GP and nurse vacancies in our practices.
“We must consider other health and care services where patients can go to get the right care, in the right place at the right time, which isn’t always the GP. This could be an out of hours GP visit to your home, a consultation with your community pharmacist, a trip to the local Minor Injury Unit or Crawley Urgent Treatment Centre (open 24/7), or even a telephone call to NHS111.”
NHS Crawley CCG lead for primary care and local GP, Dr Ketan Kansagra, said: “We are inviting our five communities - across Burgess Hill, Crawley, East Grinstead, Haywards Heath, Horsham and the surrounding villages, to review the options for providing extended access to GP Practice services at evenings and on weekends, and to consider what is best for them, as well as the wider community and the NHS as a whole.
“Together we can work smarter as we include the voice of patients, their family and the community.”
The online survey can be completed via http://www.smartsurvey.co.uk/s/GPExtendedAccessSurvey . Paper copies are also available on request from the Primary Care and Community Development Team at NHS Horsham and Mid Sussex CCG/NHS Crawley CCG on 01293 600300 x4138 or send an email to: HSCCG.Primary-Care@nhs.net titled GP Extended Access Survey.
The survey, launched 17 July 2017, will run until 15 September 2017.