It will be much easier for people living in Bath and North East Somerset (B&NES), Swindon and Wiltshire to book an appointment to see a GP, nurse or other health professional during the evenings and weekends this winter thanks to a new initiative to help health and care providers across the region cope with increased demand for services.
As winter begins, surgeries and practices have made it easier for people to book appointments at a number of surgeries across the region at times ranging from 6pm-9pm during weekdays and 8am to 12 noon on Saturdays and Sundays.
The new initiative to make it easier to see a GP or nurse is part of a range of measures introduced across the B&NES, Swindon and Wiltshire Sustainability and Transformation Partnership to ensure people stay well, stay out of hospital and help reduce the increase in demand for health and care services during the winter months.
Other initiatives include encouraging eligible patients to take up the offer of a free flu jab, highlighting the importance of talking to a local pharmacist for advice before minor ailments or winter illnesses get worse and raising awareness of the NHS 111 telephone and online service, which directs patients to the most appropriate service.
Dr Ian Orpen, a GP based in Bath and chair of B&NES, Swindon and Wiltshire STP’s Clinical Board, said: “Offering people across B&NES, Swindon and Wiltshire an opportunity to see a GP or nurse at a time that is convenient for them is good news for patients this winter and we hope will help relieve some of the pressures faced by other hard-pressed areas of the health service such as urgent and emergency care.
“Many people across our region find it hard to access GP appointments during normal appointment times and this initiative will be an enormous help to them.
“Winter is always a challenging time for the health service and it’s important that people in our region avoid getting unwell as far as they possibly can. Ultimately, we want to ensure that people who are most at risk of preventable emergency admissions to hospital over winter are aware of and, where possible, motivated to take actions that avoid that happening.”
Dr Andrew Smith, Chief Executive Officer of B&NES Enhanced Medical Services (BEMS), a local GP federation which is currently providing extra appointments on behalf of 19 practices across B&NES with the remaining five to offer the service within the next two weeks, said: “It is fantastic that people living across the region will be able to access routine appointments at times that suit them best.
“Patients may need to attend a different GP surgery to the one they usually go to, but staff of the services will have access to their full medical records. To access the full range of appointments, patients will need to book with their usual practice, by phone, during normal working hours.”
About B&NES, Wiltshire and Somerset Sustainability and Transformation Partnership
- Health organisations, GPs, hospitals and social services providers are all working together as part of the B&NES, Swindon and Wiltshire Sustainability and Transformation Partnership (STP) to join up and simplify health and social care for people across the region.
- Bath and North East Somerset, Swindon and Wiltshire Sustainability and Transformation Partnership is one of 44 partnerships across the UK working to improve people’s health and wellbeing, drive up the quality of services and deliver financial stability.
- Sustainability and Transformation Partnerships (STPs) bring together NHS providers, Clinical Commissioning Groups, local authorities and other health and care service providers.
For more information visit www.bswstp.nhs.net