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17 December 2013
Local GPs are increasing their hours and services to keep more of their patients out of casualty this winter.
More than half of GP practices in Bedford Borough have signed up to a new rapid response service offering home visits from local GPs. This ensures that if patients ring their GP needing an urgent home visit, they don’t have to wait until the end of the surgery – possibly the afternoon – to see a GP.
The service kicked off at the beginning of December and is being organised by Bedfordshire CCG to help relieve the pressure on Bedford Hospital’s A&E department over the winter. Two GPs are on call to carry out home visits from 8am to 6.30pm. So far it has received on average 18 referrals a day.
Dr Ruhul Amin, an on call GP, said: “This is a fantastic service for patients. Previously patients would ring their GP practice and have to wait until the afternoon for a home visit. Now a doctor can come to them straight away.”
One of the practices providing the new rapid response service offering home visits is London Road Health Centre. GP Dr John Kedward said: “Increasingly over the past three years our workload has gone up and our ability to manage the urgent work in time to keep people out of A&E has become more challenging.
“In particular it can be difficult to respond to a request for an urgent home visit if we have a surgery full of patients waiting to see us. So if the condition of a patient at home worsens, we often have to instruct them to call an ambulance.
“The home visiting service means patients can have access to a visit from an experienced GP much more quickly.”
Meanwhile, several practices in Bedford, including London Road Medical Centre, have also opted to open for three to five hours on Saturdays over the winter, in a further bid to help their patients avoid going to A&E.
The five practices that have signed up to weekend hours are all in areas of the borough where the local population tend to be active users of A&E.
Dr Kedward said: “We know that half the people who attend A&E don’t have either an accident or an emergency.
“Therefore we are offering a walk-in service to our patients over the weekend. It improves patient access to an experienced GP and hopefully keeps them out of the hospital’s emergency service.
“Will be open for four hours on a Saturday morning for patients registered with the practice who have an urgent problem that they feel cannot wait until Monday.”
These practices are providing extended hours on Saturdays for their registered patients: