patient medical - health leaders - Nantwich Health Centre, based at Church View Primary Care Centre

A new report sets out NHS Cheshire and Merseyside’s plan for improving access to GPs across South Cheshire.

Regional health chiefs want to make it easier and simpler for patients to access the care they need.

In 2023/24, £90 million is being invested in primary care general practice and related measures contained in the plan.

There are a total of 349 GP practices across Cheshire and Merseyside, covering a population of 2.7 million people.

A Primary Care Access Improvement Plan was presented to NHS Cheshire and Merseyside Integrated Care Board on November 30.

Key actions set out in the plan include:

– supporting greater access to appointments though measures like improved digital telephony systems
– greater use of NHS App, which is being updated to increase functionality. 84% of Cheshire and Merseyside practices already offer appointments through the NHS App
– increasing self-refer options by expanding routes for patients to refer themselves for hospital and specialist care
– launch of the Pharmacy First service early in 2024, to include assessment, advice and treatment options including prescription medicines for common conditions like earache and sore throat
– increasing and improving online access for patients
– supporting practices to make it easier for people to contact their practice and to get a response on the same day
– employing more staff through Additional Roles Reimbursement Scheme (ARRS), so patients can see the right person to meet their needs
– cutting bureaucracy to improve patient journey and experience

There are also plans to increase numbers of new GPs, improve retention rates and increase the return of experienced GPs.

Investment will also be made in wellbeing support for GP practice staff.

Dr Jonathan Griffiths, GP and Associate Medical Director for NHS Cheshire and Merseyside, said: “Our ambition with this plan is not only to improve access to general practice services for the Cheshire and Merseyside population, but to achieve more consistency across different areas.

“The plan will see us develop and expand what practices can offer patients online, including through the NHS App.

“We know that people have different needs and preferences, so encouraging those who can use digital to do so also frees up other routes for those who don’t have the same access to technology or aren’t in a position to use it.”

The plan is built on local patient intelligence, plans for local GP networks (Primary Care Networks), and individual practice plans across all parts of Cheshire and Merseyside.

You can read the full version of the plan here

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