GPs in North West London, including in Hounslow, have been awarded £5m from the Prime Minister’s Challenge Fund to support schemes to make it easier for patients to see their GP.
The money will be used to provide extended opening hours, weekend opening and better use of technology so there will be more opportunities for people to see their GPs when they feel unwell.
An additional £5m will come from GPs’ commissioning funds and money from Health Education North West London, making a total of £10m funding for the scheme.
The Prime Minister announced the Challenge Fund in October 2013, with the aim of improving access to general practice. The Challenge Fund created great interest amongst practices in adopting new ways of working, attracting more than 250 expressions of interest.
North West London is home to the largest pilot scheme in the country, which will involve 365 practices and 1.8 million residents.
Under the scheme, patients will be able to see a GP within four hours for urgent needs, 24 hours for non-urgent appointments with a local GP, and 48 hours at their own practice. In addition, patients with more complex health needs will be able to access longer appointments and a named care coordinator with will liaise with both health and social care services.
Dr Nicola Burbidge, chair of Hounslow CCG, said: “I’m delighted that General Practices in Hounslow, along with others across North West London, have been awarded this funding by the Prime Minister.
“We will use the money to improve patient access and continuity with GP practices, and make it easier for patients to contact or see their GP when they feel unwell any day of the week.
“It will also help GPs to work together in networks to improve the range and quality of services we can offer, as well as making better use of technology to book appointments and provide consultations.
“There was a strong interest across the country so we are pleased for our patients and residents that our application was successful.”
The Prime Minister, David Cameron, said: “Back in October, I said I wanted to make it easier for people to get appointments that fit in around a busy working week and family commitments.
“There has been a great response from doctors, with lots of innovative ideas, and we will now see over seven million patients given weekend and evening opening hours, alongside more access to their family doctor on the phone, via email or even Skype.
“This is an important step and good news for patients.”
Patients in Hounslow can already see a GP on Saturdays and Sundays. Anyone needing to see a GP urgently should call 111 and they will be directed to a GP practice that is open at weekends.
The Prime Minister’s Challenge Fund will be used to ensure that all patients in North West London can see a GP in their area between 8am and 8pm, Monday to Friday, and for six hours a day at weekends.