Busy people in Plymouth who struggle to get to the doctor in working hours can now see a GP during evenings and weekends.
The aim of the GP improved access service is to make it easier for people to get an appointment at a time that suits them.
The new scheme is an extension of the usual GP practice services that patients across Devon will be used to – it is not a walk-in service. Patients will still need to contact their GP practices directly to make an appointment if they want to see a GP between the longer opening hours during weekday evenings, weekends and bank holidays.
When using the improved-hours service, patients might not be able to see their usual doctor. However, the GP they see can also prescribe medication or refer the patient for further treatment if necessary.
Dr Dafydd Jones, a GP in Plympton, said: “Good access to GP services is very important and our aim is to increase the number of appointments available and extend opening times.
“We know people lead busy lives so we want to make it easier for patients to get an appointment and by making appointments available in the evenings and at weekends, we can ensure patients can see a doctor or a nurse at a time that is more convenient for them.
“If the need isn’t urgent and the patient would prefer to see their usual GP or practice nurse, they should book an appointment with their usual practice during normal opening hours.”
Patients are advised to contact their own GP practice for more information about the improved access service and how they can make appointments.
Improved access to GP appointments is just one of the ways the NHS is helping you to stay well this winter.
Other winter advice from the NHS include:
- Think MIU! If you or a loved one have an injury or minor illness this winter, remember your local Minor Injuries Unit (MIU). Highly qualified staff are at Kingsbridge, Tavistock and Cumberland MIUs 365 days a year. For more information, visit www.plymouthhospitals.nhs.uk/miu.
- NHS 111. NHS 111 is now available online (111.nhs.uk) as well as by phone (dial 111) 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. The online service uses the same clinical algorithms as the phone service, taking you through questions about your symptoms to receive tailored advice on what to do next and where to go, and if needed, you will be connected to a nurse, emergency dentist, or GP.
- Try your pharmacy first if you have a minor illness and are not sure whether to visit your doctor. GP practices and hospital emergency departments are often under even more pressure at this time of year and pharmacies can provide a fast route to medication for minor ailments like aches and pains, sore throat, coughs, colds, flu-like symptoms, runny noses, earache and skin rashes.
- It’s not too late to get your flu jab. Older people, very young people, pregnant women and those with underlying disease, particularly chronic respiratory or cardiac disease, or those who are immunosuppressed, are at particular risk of severe illness if they catch flu. People in at-risk groups qualify for a free vaccine – talk to your GP practice or local pharmacy for details.