Seems doctors across our region are offering to work evenings and weekends to help reduce waiting times.
GP practices across Bath and North East Somerset, Swindon and Wiltshire are helping patients to get the help they need by offering more types of appointments, as well as making more slots available outside of traditional opening hours.
Since the beginning of last month, most practices in the region have begun to offer a select number of appointments in the evenings and at weekends.
As well as this, practices have expanded the types of appointments being offered to patients, with many whose conditions do not require an in-person conversation receiving prompt and effective care over the telephone or by video call.
However, despite the introduction of more virtually-held consultations, patients should be assured that face-to-face appointments are still very much available.
In September of this year, 65 per cent of all patient interactions in Bath and North East Somerset, Swindon and Wiltshire were carried out in person, whereas 31 per cent of consultations took place over the telephone.
Dr Francis Campbell, a GP in Swindon and Partner Member for Primary Care on the Bath and North East Somerset, Swindon and Wiltshire Integrated Care Board, said: “Virtual appointments are nothing new but, since the pandemic, when seeing patients in a different way became a necessity, this innovative approach to providing care has really taken off.
“Patients tell us how much they value the convenience of being able to access care from the comfort of their own home, while also fitting in appointments around their work and personal commitments.
“As GPs, we understand that people with a worry or concern want to receive care and support as quickly as possible, which is why we are working hard to provide more appointments, as well as a greater variety of appointments.
“In-person consultations will always remain available for those who need such an appointment, but by having a mix of the two, we are able to provide a service that ensures as many people as possible can get the type of care they need quickly and safely.”
More than 10,000 people across Bath and North East Somerset, Swindon and Wiltshire took part in the latest GP Patient Survey, which measures the satisfaction with local primary care, and around one in ten of those questioned said they had received care either online or over the phone.
And of those who were offered a virtual appointment, more than 77 per cent said they were satisfied to have had their care provided in this way.
This trend mirrors what was seen at the start of the coronavirus pandemic when a local survey carried out by the region’s former clinical commissioning group showed 80 per cent of people thought a virtual appointment was the same or better than one that was face-to-face.
That survey also revealed that two thirds of those who were questioned said they would consider proactively asking for a virtual appointment in the future.
People can find out more about what is being offered at their local GP practice, and when, by contacting their surgery team directly.
Alternatively, further information on virtual appointments can be found online at http://www.bsw.icb.nhs.uk.