Steve Barclay MP is urging GP surgeries in North Cambridgeshire to apply for part of a £50m NHS ‘Challenge Fund’ set aside to pilot extended opening hours and improved access to medical appointments.
The NHS England Challenge fund will see at least one pilot scheme set up in each region to promote better and more convenient access to appointments and medical advice for patients.
Mr Barclay would like to see GP surgeries in North Cambridgeshire bid for a share of the funding and is encouraging participating healthcare providers to follow Challenge Fund recommendations on exploring longer opening hours (potentially from 8am to 8pm on weekdays and longer opening at weekends) and giving patients the choice of accessing care from a number of surgery sites in their area.
Other innovations that are being piloted as part of the scheme are consultations via phone, email, webcam and instant messaging. There are also plans to widen the availability of online patient services such as registration and healthy living apps to enable patients to manage their health without having to visit their GP surgery as often.
Mr Barclay said: “I hope GP’s surgeries in Cambridgeshire will take up the opportunity to benefit from the NHS Challenge Fund and bid for support that will enable them to take steps towards extending and updating patient services. These changes will not only make healthcare more accessible to those who require medical care outside of normal opening hours but will also ensure that patients have more choice as to when and where they are seen by a GP.
“This funding could assist forward-looking GP surgeries in setting up innovative online communities and services so that patients can register and consult medical advice from home.
“It is not often that direct funding is available to GP surgeries on a local basis so I would encourage providers in North Cambridgeshire to consider how this pilot could help to guarantee quality, up to date services for those who are looking for a more flexible approach to their medical appointments.”
Country-wide, the scheme hopes to offer improved conditions and more choice for up to half a million patients.
The Prime Minister announced the extra money in the Autumn to help extend access to GPs surgeries and to stimulate innovative ways of providing primary care services.
Practices applying for to the Challenge Fund should submit their expressions of interest by 5pm Friday 14 February to: firstname.lastname@example.org, copying in their Area Team. For any additional information on the Challenge Fund, applicants should contact their Area Teams.