MORE than 1,500 additional GP appointments were booked a month thanks to a scheme offering extended surgery hours.
GP practices in Gosport, Fareham and across the wide Havant area have been taking part in the GP Extended Access 18-month pilot.
The project, launched in October last year, offers times out of traditional GP hours including in the evening and on weekends for patients registered at 38 practices.
Six hubs were set up across the areas to offer the hours.
Figures from the Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) showed that on average in the past 11 months 1,570 appointments were made using the extended hours scheme. January saw the highest number with 1,936 appointments.
Sally Crooks, GP Extended Access service manager, said: ‘We have come a long way since the first clinic took place, and some lessons have been learned.
‘We have had some fantastic feedback from patients, some of whom have been more than happy to travel, for example, from Fareham to Petersfield, to see a GP for a same-day appointment.
‘GP surgeries are usually closed on bank holidays and at weekends, but last Christmas we were able to provide a primary care service over the Christmas holiday period.’
In July the scheme prevented 21 patients from going to the emergency department at Queen Alexandra Hospital, in Cosham.
It also stopped 112 patients having to wait for their own surgery to open.
Ms Crooks added: ‘The service is being well received by the GP practices. They can see a lot of activity being done in the clinics which would otherwise have further stretched their daytime resources.’
The six clinics are being run at Fareham Community Hospital, Monday to Saturday; Gosport War Memorial Hospital, every day; Havant Health Centre, Monday to Friday and on Sundays; Petersfield Community Hospital, Monday to Saturday; Waterlooville Health Centre, Monday to Saturday; and Badgerswood Surgery in Bordon on Saturdays.
The clinics are open 6.30pm to 8pm Monday to Fridays, 8am until 4.30pm on Saturdays, and 8am until 1pm on Sundays.
The CCG has paid for the service with the staffing resourced by the Southern Hampshire Primary Care Alliance, drawn from GPs, nurses and healthcare assistants from all the practices.