MORE than 330,000 patients in central Lancashire will be able to see their GP at evenings and weekends this winter.
People living in Preston, Chorley and South Ribble, will benefit after 50 GP practices in the area signed up to offer extended opening hours between October this year and March next year.
Some will be staying open until 8pm, others will be offering appointments for Saturday and Sunday mornings.
Jan Ledward, Chief Officer at Greater Preston Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) and Chorley and South Ribble CCG, said: “Patients have told us that during the busy winter months it can be difficult to get an appointment with their GP at a time that is suitable for them.
“These extended opening hours will offer patients and doctors greater flexibility.”
“We hope that by GPs offering extended opening hours that it will help to alleviate the pressure on other areas of the NHS during the busy winter period.
“We would encourage anyone who feels unwell to contact their GP in the first instance for an appointment rather than going straight to hospital.
“A&E should only be used for emergencies, critical or life threatening situations.”
Dr Khandavalli of Dr Bamford and Partners at Chorley Health Centre, said, “We are acutely aware of the difficulties working patients have getting to see us, especially over the winter period when demand for appointments is so great.
“We have already seen patients benefitting from the service and hope that patients who have traditionally found it difficult to get time to see their doctor can make use of the weekend Surgeries.”
Lorna Cottam, Practice Manager at St. Mary’s Health Centre in Penwortham, said: “Opening our practice at the weekend enables patients to be seen by a GP they know, in a familiar environment, at a time that is convenient to them.
“As we will be offering more appointments overall, patients should find it easier to get an appointment with the practice and won’t feel they have no choice but to attend A&E or Out of Hours.”