All patients across Lancashire can now access general practice appointments in the evening and weekends, NHS England has announced.
The extended access means that patients will be able to see a doctor, nurse or other member of the practice team at a time convenient to them – providing an estimated nine million extra appointments per year.
The weekend and evening service is available across the country more than three months ahead of schedule and will help ease pressures on the NHS as temperatures drop.
NHS England has started a communications campaign for the run up to Christmas to ensure patients are aware of the evening and weekend appointments.
Dr Kieran Murphy, NHS England (Lancashire and South Cumbria) medical director, said: “Strengthening general practice is an important part of the NHS long term plan and local health services have worked hard to ensure patients have access to our excellent general practice services right across the country. Because of this hard work, we have been able to make these extra appointments available months ahead of schedule and before winter really starts.
“As well as offering convenience and choice to patients, it will help to reduce some of the pressure on general practice and A&Es and ease some of the wider system pressures we saw last winter.”
On top of the extended access services, strengthening general practice and primary care is a key part of the forthcoming NHS Long Term Plan and at least £3.5 billion more in real terms will be invested in primary medical and community services, which will also improve access to weekday ‘in hours’ services.