A pioneering pilot project offering people in west Leeds seven-day access to GPs is proving a success, health bosses have claimed.
During the first 12 months of the £9million scheme attendances to GP surgeries in the area have rocketed, the numbers of weekend and telephone appointments have “increased markedly” and the number of A&E visits by residents has seen a “very slight decrease”.
Following Prime Minister David Cameron’s pledge to give patients access to GPs during extended 8am to 8pm hours seven days a week, NHS Leeds West Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) launched the 18 month pilot in November 2014 to explore the idea.
As one of the first schemes of its kind, it has seen all of the 37 west Leeds GP practices open for extended hours, with around 19 of those working together in clusters to offer weekend and bank holiday opening from 8am to 4pm.
The pilot project, which is due to end next month, will be discussed at Leeds City Council’s health scrutiny board.
A report to the board said: “The key benefit of the Leeds West scheme being larger than most other examples is that we have achieved collaboration amongst groups of practices across our whole CCG area.
“This will be a platform for future change as the CCG looks to support the development of new models of care.”
The trial was aimed at reducing the £11m A&E and urgent care spend, and lift patient satisfaction in west Leeds.
But the report warned that the “increased cost of emergency admissions means that there is currently no evidence that there will be any reduced spend in the wider health system”. After funding for the project ceases next month, the extended hours scheme will be reviewed but fears over the GP workforce remain.
While the report states there was “wide support for the scheme” from patients, some staff had concerns it meant “existing resources being spread too thinly”.