A new GP surgery offering an extra 1,000 appointments a month for Cannock patients has opened its doors to the public.
The Cannock Practices Network, which secured £320,000 following a successful bid to the Prime Minister’s Challenge Fund, opened the new surgery on 1 September 2015.
The Network Surgery, which is based in the GP Suite on Level 2 in Cannock Chase Hospital, offers GP and Nurse appointments to patients when their own practice either has no appointments left or is closed.
It is open from 3.30pm till 8pm on weekdays and from 9am till 1pm on Saturday and Sunday.
There are 10 practices from the Network involved in the first phase of the Improving Patient Access Project These are: Alderwood Medical Practice, Chadsmoor Medical Practice, Heath Hayes/Chase Medical Practice, Moss Street Surgery, Dr Murugan’s Surgery, Dr Rasib’s Surgery, Rawnsley Surgery, Red Lion Surgery, Dr VK Singh’s Surgery and Dr Yi’s Surgery.
The Cannock Practices Network is one of three established by the Cannock Chase Clinical Commissioning Group to support delivery of the Primary Care Strategy and development of primary care services locally.
Clive Cropper, Practice Manager at Moss Street Surgery and Project Lead, said: “We genuinely believe that this project will provide significant help to the patients of these practices.
"The increased availability that these appointments will provide is what many patients have been asking for," he said.
“Our first session was very encouraging, with seven out of the ten Practices booking at least one patient.
"We saw 31 patients in total and all of the doctor and Nurse Practitioner appointments were used.”
“This Project is funded until 31 March 2016," Mr Cropper said.
"In order for it to continue, feedback from patients using the service is very important to help us to make that case by demonstrating its success and patient satisfaction.”
Appointments are booked through a patient’s own practice when they ring after 1.30pm for an appointment and there are none available.
Patients are then given the option to be seen at the new Network Surgery.
In addition to providing additional doctor and nurse appointments, it is hoped that the project will also free up time in GP practices which will enable existing services to be improved and extended for their patients.
For example, it may give more time for GPs to spend longer with vulnerable and complex patients such as those with multiple conditions and the frail elderly.
It also aims to reduce the number of inappropriate attendances to the Minor Injuries Unit and A&E services by making more appointments available within primary care at times when patients have said they would like them.
The Prime Minister’s Challenge Fund was launched in October 2013 and initially made £50million available to help improve access to general practice and stimulate innovative ways of providing primary care services.
A further £100million was made available for a second wave of applications in September 2014, with the Network’s Improving Patient Access Project one of just 37 successful bids out of 156 applications submitted nationally.
The ongoing work of the project will be monitored and evaluated on a regular basis with the full support of, and in conjunction with, the Network Patient Participation Group, whose membership includes representatives from Healthwatch Staffordshire, the Carers Association, the Alzheimer’s Society and Cannock Chase District Council.