North Staffordshire doctors ordered to stay open all week to help hospital's A&E
FAMILY doctors are to be told to keep surgeries open longer to help stop their patients visiting the under-pressure A&E.
Health bosses leading moves to switch care from hospital to the community say GP practices need to be available seven days a week to help avert North Staffordshire's urgent care crisis.
But it emerged that most of the 53 surgeries in Stoke-on-Trent still follow a generations-old tradition and shut on Thursday afternoons – even though some open on Saturday mornings.
Now the GP-led Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), which is about to take over the city's NHS, is sending officials into some practices to tell them to increase their opening hours.
Call WHITEGATES Today 01782 209935 ..Limited offer. Available only up on production of voucher. Sell your home for £399 plus vat.* #EPC is required to market your home not included in offer.
Terms: *Upfront payment, non-refundable in the event of property remaining unsold, being withdrawn from the market or being sold by another agent, yourself or by any other means.#EPC £62.50 plus vat.
Contact: 01782 209 935
Valid until: Thursday, July 04 2013
They will also suggest holding consultations with patients by e-mail to put off unnecessary visits to A&E.
The University Hospital of North Staffordshire has been hit by a staggering 11 perc ent rise in emergency patients – with an even bigger jump in numbers needing beds.
The surge has caused the complex to miss Government targets on speedy treatment, incur millions of pounds in fines and run up huge debts by re-opening 80 beds.
The bid for a bigger role for GPs came at yesterday's CCG board meeting in Stoke.
Hugh Evans, director of the Fit For The Future programme, said: "All NHS and local authority organisations face significant challenges to their viability if they continue business as usual.
"Much more can be done to support people in the community to improve their own health and well-being. An element of GP activity is needed over seven days to make the local health system flow better and address these surge in problems."
Experts say the A&E workload rises when GP surgeries are shut.
Cases also shoot up on Mondays after patients have sought no help over the weekend and seen their conditions develop into emergencies.
Tunstall GP Dr Ruth Chambers, the CCG's lead for practice development, said: "Most city practices still shut on Thursday afternoons and we are trying to support them to address access."
Goldenhill-based Dr Chandra Kanneganti, unplanned care director, added: "Practices receive only £64 per patient a year so is that enough resource to sustain 24-hour working?
"However, we are looking at other initiatives such as e-mail consultations."
George Abela, chairman of the heath watchdog LINk, said: "I have just waited two-and-half months for a GP consultation for a hearing problem – it's no wonder people go to A&E where they are guaranteed treatment if they wait long enough."