Longer GP hours does not reduce A&E visits

THERE is “no direct correlation” between longer GP opening hours and patient attendance at A&E, according to a new study.

Statistics show that in one area where three out of four practices provide extended hours commissioned by NHS England (known as DES), the A&E service is “red rated” for high attendances. In contrast, another area where practices do not provide any additional hours above the core contract has low A&E attendances.

The figures emerged in a report published by two Nottingham clinical commissioning groups (CCGs), Mansfield and Ashfield CCG, and Newark and Sherwood CCG. They evaluated the effects of extended GP access schemes on A&E attendances for practices in their areas between August 2016 and July 2017.

Their results suggested there was “no direct correlation” between GP opening hours and A&E attendance and that geography was a more significant factor in influencing patients’ decisions about which healthcare service to access.

The findings come as NHS England hopes to reduce A&E visits by encouraging more GP practices to provide extended hours.

The CCGs’ report recommends strong promotion of extended hours services and says services must be easily accessible for “hard to reach” groups.

Read the full report here

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