Patients welcome new extended access scheme for Portsmouth

Patients have welcomed a new integrated 24/7 primary care service to improve patient care and access to services across Portsmouth.

The scheme, which offers patients registered with a city GP an improved choice of out-of-hours care, was used 2,968 patients in September – almost exactly the 3,000 people a month that were expected to use it before its launch on June 29.

NHS Portsmouth Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), which plans and buys a range of health services, commissioned the Integrated Primary Care Service (IPCS) from the Portsmouth Primary Care Alliance (PPCA), which represents GP practices.

In a pioneering new-look approach, patients can not only access routine appointments in-hours at their own GP surgeries as they did previously, but now also make weekday evening and Saturday appointments at a GP hub at Lake Road Health Centre, in central Portsmouth.

As well as additional routine appointments the service offers urgent same-day appointments every day from 6.30am to10pm, 365 days a year.

It has linked three services for people needing urgent out-of-hospital care. These are the:

* Acute Visiting Service (AVS) – a home visiting service for all Portsmouth GP registered patients needing urgent but non-emergency care
* The extended access service – to provide routine medical provision from Mondays to Saturdays to registered patients outside of core hours until 8pm, and urgent, same-day appointments until 10pm every day
* and Out-of-Hours provision – accessed through the NHS 111 service, with GP care provided overnight from 6.30pm to 8am.

Feedback has been extremely positive. The patient survey shows that more than 91% of patients who completed the survey in September agreed that that they received a ball back quickly. Some 6% were uncertain, and 2.5% disagreed.

Some 76% said they were seen quickly after arriving for their appointment. 13% were unsure and nearly 11% disagreed.

Also 99% of patients said the staff were helpful and courteous. 1% were uncertain.

Importantly around 95% of patients were happy with the outcome of their consultation, compared to nearly 1.5% who were not. Nearly 3% of patients were unsure.

Dr Linda Collie, the CCG’s clinical lead, said: “The scheme has not had long enough to settle down for us to come to any major conclusions, but the early signs are encouraging.

“We have had the number of contacts we were expecting and very importantly for us, the number of face-to-face contacts required by the patients has not been as high as we thought it might be because more issues were resolved to a patient’s satisfaction over the phone.

“This means that GPs then have more time to deal with the next patient. This is crucial at a time when there is such huge pressure on our GP practices because of the increasing demand for their services.”

Dr Rumi Chhapia, the Clinical Director for the service, said: “We are pleased with the development of this service to date, and with the positive impact it is having on people living in Portsmouth.

“By having access to the patient notes in the GP practice as well, we are able to ensure good decision-making, based on what individual patients need.”