Our challenge

To ease pressure on the NHS by deflecting care away from the extremely busy local hospitals.

How we tackled it

Bury GP Federation and NHS Bury CCG used funding from the Prime Minister’s GP Access Fund to offer 200,000 patients GP appointments from 6.30pm-8.30pm Monday to Friday and from 8am-6pm on weekends and bank holidays.

Patients contact their own practice and then can choose any of five health centres to see a GP. Key to the scheme’s success has been making the health records of all patients accessible from each of the health centres. Real time access to shared health records means patients do not have to give their medical history each time they attend an extended access appointment. It also means care is safer, particularly when prescribing, as GPs have all of the patients’ information at their fingertips.

Patients are also being offered phone consultations routinely instead of face-to-face appointments at a time that suits during normal surgery hours and are being encouraged to use online services to book appointments and order prescriptions.

Maureen Gibson
Seventy-six-year-old year old Maureen Gibson from Fishpool is among those who have benefitted from the service. She has angina and vascular dementia, and used it over the Easter Bank Holiday. Her daughter-in-law Claudia Matthews said: We rang her surgery on the Friday evening and were surprised to learn she could have a Saturday appointment. As many families living with dementia know, assurance and stability are important things. We were impressed by the first-class treatment that Maureen received.”

What changed

Bury patients have access to 1,425 more GP appointments a week. Since February 2015, more than 5,000 patients have benefitted from the service, which has reduced A&E attendances by 5.5 per cent. The appointments are also helping to reduce demand on GP practices on Monday mornings – traditionally a very busy time.

Devolution focus

A priority is to widen access to primary care, as this is so important to people. More than a third of Greater Manchester’s 2.8m people have better access thanks to different projects in Bury, Rochdale, Wigan and Manchester. This scheme is an ambitious extension of that work.