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Integrated care centre launches to take on same-day GP appointments

Integrated care centre launches to take on same-day GP appointments

An integrated care centre has been launched in Surrey that will see GPs, nurse practitioners and physiotherapists provide same-day appointments
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An integrated care centre has been launched in Surrey that will see GPs, nurse practitioners and physiotherapists provide same-day appointments.

The care centre, which will serve 40,000 patients across four practices, aims to reduce waiting times in primary care and allow GPs to offer longer routine appointments.

Based in the Farnham Centre for Health, the integrated care centre is part of the Farnham Out of Hospital Care project – an NHS England integrated primary and acute care systems vanguard.

The patients at the four practices are able to book an appointment through their practice as they usually would but are sent to the care centre if a same-day appointment is needed.

Between three and four GPs are supplied to the care centre by the practices involved: Downing Street Group Practice, Farnham Dene Medical Practice, The Ferns Medical practice and River Wey Medical Practice.

Dr David Brown, the lead GP for the project and partner at Farnham Dene Medical Practice, said that before the centre was launched, up to 20% of the practices’ appointments were urgent and could now be taken at the new care centre.

He said that this is already freeing up GP time to spend up to 15 minutes with patients during routine appointments, providing ‘a more considered approach to patient care’.

NHS England was said to be exploring plans proposed by leading GPs for practices to refer patients to a hub staffed by GPs and other health professionals that would deal with urgent on-the-day problems, giving other GPs time to offer 15-minute appointments.

However, a survey from GP home-visit provider AKEA Life found that more than three-quarters of patients prefer to see a regular GP. 

But Dr Brown said patients and GPs have accepted the lack of continuity of care at the integrated care centre.

He said: ‘We all acknowledge that in terms of urgent care, it doesn't matter who you see as long as the person you see has access to the medical records, which we do.’ 

The health professionals at the care centre are able to read and amend patient records through the patient records system EMIS.

The care centre, which is currently open between 8am and 6.30pm from Monday to Friday, is planning to extend its opening hours to 8pm ‘in the near future’ with extended access funding.

However, the North East Hampshire and Farnham CCG was unable to comment on future funding for the care centre ahead of the general election.

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