More appointments to see a GP or nurse practitioners are being laid on throughout Norfolk this winter. Most practices will be offering extra ‘on the day’ appointments, between now and early March 2017.
Dr Simon Cooke, a GP in Norwich and Chair of OneNorwich - the new alliance of GP Practices in the city - said: “GP Practices are doing their bit to help a growing number of patients who feel unwell because of winter - and help ease the pressure on the wider NHS that it is always under.”
Antek Lejk, chief officer of both North and South Norfolk CCGs added: “All of the NHS feels extra pressure during winter and many staff go the extra mile to ensure patients receive the care they need, when they need it.
“Many GP practices changed their appointment slots to offer more ‘on the day’ appointments over Christmas and New Year. We are grateful to them for again rising to the challenge.”
At each practice there may be a handful extra appointments per day, or more offered in a block. But added together, the numbers are impressive - across all the participating Norfolk practices over about 8 weeks there will be nearly 12,000 additional appointments offered.
- In Norwich, 23 practices will together be providing about 3200 extra appointments between now and February.
- In South Norfolk, 23 practices will together be providing about 3700 extra appointments between them.
- In North Norfolk, 19 practices will be providing about 2500 extra appointments between them.
- In West Norfolk, 20 surgeries will together be providing about 2500 extra appointments between them.
Availability of extra appointments will vary from practice to practice and from day to day, depending on what staff are available. For example, some practices will be offering extra clinics on a Friday to help reduce weekend hospital admissions, some have added a few extra appointments each morning and some have booked a locum for a couple of mornings a week.
All patients need to do is contact their GP surgery as usual if they want an appointment, and they will be offered a time if an appointment is available. Patients are kindly reminded to cancel unwanted appointments so other people can have them instead.
Dr Tim Morton of the Norfolk and Waveney Local Medical Committee said: “Many practices across the country are under severe pressure themselves, with too few GPs and difficulty in recruiting.
“However when the NHS is facing the usual round of additional pressures this winter, we are proud and not surprised that colleagues in primary care are taking on extra work to ensure patients are helped when they need it.”
Patients are urged to always think carefully about asking for a GP appointment. There may be better options to think about first:
- Minor ailments such as like coughs, colds and ‘winter sickness’ should be treated at home. For advice go to www.nhs.uk
If you need help to ‘self care’ then your local community pharmacist can offer sensible advice and provide you with the medicines you might need.
- Call 111 for expert over-the-phone advice. If you need to speak to a doctor or nurse, the 111 call handlers can arrange this for you or advise you where to go.
- Try a walk-in centre if you cannot see your GP, for minor illness and injuries. The Norwich walk-in centre is open 7am-9pm. Cromer Minor Injuries Unit is open 8am-8pm.