Changes to the health system in Tameside mean it could become easier to get an appointment with your GP.
The introduction of ‘primary care networks’, part of a range of new policies being rolled out by NHS England, will see general practices work together and with partners to improve local services.
It will also support improved access for patients in Tameside and Glossop, according to council documents, as the amount of extended hours provision from GPs will increase.
Surgeries will not be able to close before 6.30pm, or for a half day during the week unless they can guarantee their patients would have available treatment elsewhere in the network.
Jessica Williams, interim director of commissioning, told the strategic commissioning board that the networks were ‘very new’ but also ‘very exciting’.
“We’re starting to talk in here about what we’re going to do about extended hours,” she said.
“Basically, it means you have to be available until 6.30 in the evening, and you can’t have a half day closing.
“That should mean that all our areas in Tameside and Glossop should have more access to general practice than they currently do, so that’s a good thing.”
The changes, which went live on July 1, sees the creation of five networks covering GP practices in Ashton, Denton, Glossop, Hyde and Stalybridge.
Committee chair, Dr Ashwin Ramachandra told members it was an ‘exciting time’ for the health system.
“Collective working in practices across the neighbourhoods was already kind of there so we’re quite far ahead in this kind of working compared to the other areas,” he said.
“I look forward to this developing and the system working together much more for the betterment of all patients.”
A primary care network consists of groups of general practices working together with a range of local providers, including across primary care, community services, social care and the voluntary sector, to offer more ‘personalised’, coordinated health and social care.
Networks typically serve populations of between 30-50,000 residents.
Each one would have a doctor as lead clinical director, or two in the case of Hyde and Stalybridge.
Ms Williams added: “We believe that actually by having these networks it will go some way to support primary care as it moves into the future.
“There is a mechanism now where practices can work to support one another, rather than being seen as individual businesses.”
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