GPs offer longer opening hours

PUBLISHED: 13:59 10 March 2009 | UPDATED: 14:24 10 May 2010

MORE than 80 per cent of GP practices in the district are now offering extended opening hours to patients. The majority of GPs in the area, including Uttlesford, now offer the service thanks to an agreement reached between the practices and NHS West Esse

MORE than 80 per cent of GP practices in the district are now offering extended opening hours to patients.

The majority of GPs in the area, including Uttlesford, now offer the service thanks to an agreement reached between the practices and NHS West Essex.

Uttlesford locality director for NHS West Essex Toni Coles said: "We now have 85 per cent of our practices across Epping Forest, Harlow and Uttlesford offering extended hours - this is 35 per cent more than the government's target.

"We are really pleased so many of our practices across the three localities are now offering extended hours. These changes make a real difference for patients wanting to access their practice and GP at a time that is more convenient to them.

"Patients are now actively visiting their practices on either Saturday mornings, early in the morning or in the evening to see their GP for routine appointments.

"They are also speaking to the practice to make and cancel appointments, order repeat prescriptions, obtain test results and make general enquiries during these hours."

The majority of practices have both GPs and nurses or healthcare assistants working during the extended hours period.

The arrangement gives people the opportunity to book routine appointments early in the morning (before 8am), in the evenings (after 6.30pm) and on Saturday mornings.

Health minister Ben Bradshaw has welcomed the move: "Being able to see a GP at more convenient, flexible times is one of the things the public tell us is most important to them in further improving the NHS," he said.

"It is great news for patients in west Essex that 85 per cent of GP practices are now offering opening hours early in the mornings, in the evenings or at weekends, and this is thanks to the hard work of GPs and the local NHS.

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