Extended hours to see your GP are now operating throughout Peterborough as part of a trial to change the way patients access medical help.
Since October over 250,000 people in the Peterborough, North West Cambridgeshire and East Northamptonshire constituencies have been able to see a GP from 8am to 8pm on weekdays.
Local doctors believe the new model, if successful, will help tackle Peterborough’s shortage of GPs and provide an extra 15,000 additional primary care appointments in weekday evenings.
The 29 GP practices included in the trial have been grouped into four hubs based loosely on geography, with phlebotomists, health care assistants and advanced nurse practitioners to be made available across practices in a hub.
This might mean, though, patients having to visit a different practice to their own one to receive the correct treatment.
Medical staff are now receiving more training so they can see patients for a greater number of problems, thus freeing up GP time.
The £2.6 million for the trial comes from the Prime Minister’s Challenge Fund.
The money runs out next year but it is hoped additional funding will be found if the trial proves to be successful.
The new model was devised by local GPs who applied to ministers for funding.
Dr Gary Howsam, clinical lead for the Prime Minister’s Challenge Fund, said: “We know there are national challenges and not enough GPs and the population’s growing more elderly which means more sick people. This is our solution to it.”
Dr Howsam also hopes the new model will make it more attractive for GPs to work in Peterborough rather than go elsewhere.
A new online portal with information for patients is also being readied, but the way people access medical help on the phone has not changed.
The recent changes also mean that some people who come into the Emergency Department at Peterborough City Hospital are being seen there by GPs and practice nurses depending on what care they need.
This is to help to ease the pressure on the service.