Extended Access

Extended Access to Chesterfield GPs

One of the major projects being run at Arc Primary Care is the provision of a ‘hub’ in which appointments with GPs and other clinicians are carried out, outside of traditional core surgery hours.

Back in 2016 the NHS published a plan called the General Practice Forward View. It laid out a scheme for the comprehensive overhaul of general practice, which it considered necessary after a number of years in which funding and attention had been largely focussed on hospitals.

A major aim of the Foward View was to reduce pressure on GP practices, but this was not simply to be achieved via increased payments and increased recruitment. The idea was to put in place various alternative ways of working which would be more efficient than those already in place.

One such idea was the introduction of ‘extended access’ surgeries. Extended access was not tightly defined by the View, but it essentially meant that practices should consider patterns of known and likely patient demand, and move resources to match them.

This would have a double benefit of reducing the administrative friction caused by excessive peaks of demand, whilst also allowing patients a greater breadth of times in which they could access services.

In Chesterfield it was determined that the best way to handle this new requirement would be to set up a hub in which clinicians from all local practices could work, and at which all residents could attend. The size and location of each Chesterfield practice was considered in order to decide where the hub should be based. Ultimately, Avenue House and Brimington surgeries were chosen as co-hosts and the service began operating in October of 2018.

The staff who work in the hub do so on a voluntary basis. They are drawn exclusively from Chesterfield practices, so they have good knowledge of local working processes. Patient records are updated dynamically within hub sessions, so any treatment provided is automatically logged for the doctors at the patient’s home surgery to see.

Hub hours are currently:

Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday – 1700-2000
Thursday and Friday 1800-2000
Saturday 0800-1200
Sunday 0900-1200
Anybody who is registered with a Chesterfield general practice can book into one of these appointment slots. All you need to do is to contact your own GP in the normal way, and state that you would like an appointment during one of the above periods.

The GP Forward View initially suggested that Extended Access would be a trial, which if successful would become standard across the country and would be funded by the practices, as opposed to centrally. As it stands, the trial has recently been expanded and will be running for longer than originally planned, well in to 2021. Chesterfield residents can therefore assume the hub will continue operating in its current form until at least that time, and probably onwards from there.