Simpler access to GP practice appointments via the healthcare hubs from 1st August
15th July 2019 | By Melanie Shilton | Posted in Practices
From 1st August 2019, a simplified process will be introduced for booking appointments at Leicester City GP practices, when patients’ own GP practices cannot fit them in. This will affect how people book appointments at all four healthcare hubs in the city.
The change will make the process simpler for patients because they will have fewer telephone numbers to remember. It will ensure patients’ care continues to be managed by their GP practice, makes best use of all the available appointments at GP practices and the healthcare hubs and checks that a hub is the right place for patients to be seen in.
The healthcare hubs are an integral part of the service provided by Leicester City GP practices to improve access to appointments. If patients need an appointment with their GP practice and their own practice does not have anything available, they could have an appointment at one of four healthcare hubs instead, if an appointment is suitable for the patient’s medical problem.
Until now, patients have been able to book appointments by telephone themselves. From 1st August, appointments can only be booked by a patient’s own GP practice during normal GP practice opening hours of 8am to 6:30pm, Monday to Friday. In the evening and at weekends, patients can call NHS 111 for advice, who will be able to book an out of hours appointment if appropriate.
Patients are now looked after by a much wider team of health professionals in their practice, including clinical pharmacists, advanced nurse practitioners and extended-scope physiotherapists. So everyone can get the care they need as quickly as possible, and so GPs can spend more time with the most seriously ill people, patients need to have had a conversation with their practice or NHS 111 before an appointment is booked for them. This is so an assessment can be made about who the right person is for them to see and will make it easier for patients to get an appointment at their practice or an alternative service, where needed.
Appointments at the healthcare hubs are not always appropriate, for example they cannot provide an extension to a fit note. It is important that patients speak to their practice first so they do not have a wasted journey.
The healthcare hubs offer 1600 extra appointments each week, on top of existing GP practice appointments. There will be no change to the service that patients receive from the healthcare hubs, the number of appointments or the opening times. They will continue to provide convenient appointments with a GP or prescribing nurse when a patient’s own GP practice cannot fit them in or it is closed, if an appointment is required. Appointments are available seven days a week, including evenings, weekends and bank holidays. If patients are unwell and their practice is closed they should still call NHS111 for advice.
Professor Azhar Farooqi, a GP in Leicester City and Chair of Leicester City Clinical Commissioning Group said: “Practices are busy places with more and more people needing our help. We have taken the decision to change the booking process for the healthcare hubs to make sure we are making the best use of all the available appointments in general practice in the city, including at the healthcare hubs.
“It means practice staff will be able to check that a hub is the right place for the patient so they do not have a wasted journey and it allows us to ensure we are making the maximum use of the wide range of health professionals that now work as part of the practice team.
“The hubs are not a replacement for a patient’s normal GP practice and it is important that their registered GP has a holistic view of all aspects of their care. Overall, the changes we are making will improve access to appointments in GP practices and make it simpler for patients because they will have fewer telephone numbers to remember.”
You can find out more about the healthcare hubs by visiting www.leicestercityccg.nhs.uk/healthcare-hubs.