GP and childGP’s are to extend their opening hours by staying open later in the evening, and for the first time, on weekends as part of a new trial in the North West of England.

The government hope increased access to GP’s will mean an earlier diagnosis for patients, and in turn a better standard of treatment so by decreasing the prevalence of A&E visits.

According to the Manchester Evening News, after winning grants from a £2m pot, practices in Radcliffe, Heywood and Middleton will use the money to significantly improve their patient services. With the use of the money at each practice’s discretion, it has been determined that the money will be used to fund seven-day GP access.

Big difference to patients
Lead doctor for GP’s in Bury, Dr Kiran Patel said: “This is about extending GP hours to give better access for patients and cut down on waiting times. Patients will have access to GPs much more easily and have a quick assessment by a medical professional.

“Many people struggle to get appointments outside their working hours and this will allow that to happen while taking pressure off A&E. If we can get this stuff working it will make a big difference. It will take the stress off A&E, there will be more time for patients who need to be there and it will make sure patients get seen by the right people the first time round.”

Benefits of better access to GP's 
The trial is due to start at the end of October, running for six months. Should the trial be successful, intentions are for the changes to be rolled out across Greater Manchester.

Considering the effect the changes may have on criminal negligence claims, Laura Williams from Bolton-based Asons Solicitors 

"Giving patients better access to their GP should have several benefits. From personal experience, I know how difficult it can be to get an appointment outside working hours; being able to see my GP in the evening or at the weekend would be of great benefit.

"In the wake of the mid-staff and Keogh reports, it seems like every newspaper has reported on our hospitals struggles. At Asons we frequently see hospital acquired infection claims, misdiagnosis claims and pressure sore claims, where clinical negligence problems have arisen because hospital staff have been over-worked and under-pressure. Extending GP opening hours could alleviate that pressure, as patients will no longer have to visit A&E because their local surgery is closed. I will be following these trials with great interest.”