Clinical Commissioning Groups across Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland have put new schemes in place to provide additional appointments for those who need them across the winter period.
They are also reminding people to prepare for the Christmas Holidays and make sure they know how they can access healthcare over the festive period, particularly when GP surgeries are closed.
Professor Mayur Lakhani, Chair of West Leicestershire Clinical Commissioning Group and a GP in Sileby said “As a working GP I know how important it is that the people who need to see their GP can get an appointment. We spend a lot of time as a clinical commissioning group talking to patients across West Leicestershire, who tell us that they are worried about not being able to get in to see a GP. With these schemes in place patients can be assured that we are working to make sure that there are appointments available and that General Practitioners are working together to provide the best care for patients. We’ve worked with the Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland Local Medical Council to prepare for the festive season and provide access to healthcare for those who need it.”
Many GP practices in West Leicestershire will be running an “on the day” access scheme to provide additional appointments on weekdays above and beyond those already available. These additional appointments will help practices to manage the additional demand during winter and also to support urgent care providers, allowing them to refer patients back to their GP surgery for a routine appointment if that would provide better care. Some of the most vulnerable patients in the West Leicestershire area are also being supported through a scheme to give them weekend access to health care if they need it. GPs are issuing “passports” to those patients on their lists who they consider to be likely to need medical support over the weekend, which include a number to call which puts them directly in contact with a clinician. The clinician will then assess the patient’s condition over the phone, which could lead to a home visit from a GP or emergency care practitioner if necessary.
Patients who are registered at any Leicester City GP practice can also now get an appointment with a GP or nurse during the evenings, weekends and bank holidays at one of four new healthcare hubs, just as they would with their own GP practice. The hubs are located at Willows Medical Centre, Westcotes Medical Practice, Brandon Street Surgery and Saffron Surgery. The hubs are open 18:30 – 22:00 weekdays and 09:00 – 22:00 weekends and bank holidays. Patients should call 0116 366 0560 for an appointment during opening hours or they can just walk in. More information is available at www.leicestercityccg.nhs.uk/healthcare-hubs .
In East Leicestershire and Rutland, patients needing to see a healthcare professional when their local GP is closed are advised to visit their local Urgent Care Centres in Market Harborough, Oakham, Melton Mowbray and Oadby outside of normal GP hours. These centres are offering 3,200 additional slots between 18 December and 31 January for people who need care when their GPs are not available. Over the Christmas break, patients will be able to use this service to be treated quickly and locally if they are unwell but cannot wait until their GP practice re-opens.
Patients who become unwell, but are unsure of what is open or the best way for them to get the help they need are urged to call NHS111, who will triage their symptoms and advise on the best way to access the most suitable healthcare. In East Leicestershire and Rutland, the newly launched App ‘NHS Now’ is also available to download through the Google Play or iTunes store. ‘NHS Now’ puts information and access to whole range of local NHS services direct into patients' hands. The App knows when and where the user is when they access it and tailors its information accordingly. This includes opening times, phone number and website - plus walking or driving directions launched directly into the user's phone.
Professor Lakhani continues “We understand that it can be confusing to know how to access healthcare, particularly over the Christmas period when you might not be sure what is open. We want to reassure patients that services are available if they need them. I advise everyone to ‘talk before they walk’ so that they can be sure that they’re going to the right place, first time. If they’re not sure what is open or which service is right for them then if they need medical help they can NHS111, who will triage their symptoms and direct them to the right service to help. If they decide a caller needs to be seen in person, they will be able to book appointments for the patient at many of the urgent care services available to ensure that patients have to wait as little as possible.”
Notes for editors
Over Christmas, most GP surgeries will be open as usual until 4PM on Christmas Eve, although some may remaining open until 6:30PM . They will then be closed until 29 December when they will reopen as normal until the 31st. On the 31st they will be open as usual until 4PM, although some may remain open until 6:30PM. They will then be closed on New Year’s Day, opening again on 4 January 2016. Patients are urged to check their local GPs website to find out the times for their practice.
Some GPs will be also be offering services over Christmas, and patients should again check with their individual practices. Up-to-date times for City practices can be found at https://www.leicestercityccg.nhs.uk/
Patients can still access healthcare via out of hours arrangements while surgeries are closed as well as through Urgent Care and Walk In Centres.
Urgent Care in East Leicestershire
Weekdays 8am to 9pm- Urgent Care Centre (minor injury and illness)
Weekends and Bank Holidays 8am to 8pm- Oadby Urgent Care Centre
Weekdays 8.30am to 5pm- Urgent Care Centres (minor injury) with x-ray facilities available
Market Harborough District Hospital and Rutland Memorial Hospital, Oakham
Weekdays 5pm to 9pm and Weekends and Bank Holiday 9 am to 7pm - Urgent Care Centre (minor injury and illness)
Market Harborough District Hospital
Rutland Memorial Hospital, Oakham
Melton Mowbray Hospital
18:30 – 22:00 weekdays and 09:00 – 22:00 weekends and bank holiday- Willows Medical Centre at 184 Coleman Road, LE5 4LJ
18:30 – 22:00 weekdays and 09:00 – 22:00 weekends and bank holidays- Westcotes Medical Practice at Westcotes Health Centre, Fosse Road South;
18:30 – 22:00 weekdays and 09:00 – 22:00 weekends and bank holidays- Brandon Street Surgery at Belgrave Health Centre, 52 Brandon Street,
18:30 – 22:00 weekdays and 09:00 – 22:00 weekends and bank holidays- Saffron Surgery at 612 Saffron Lane, LE2 6TD