August has seen it become a lot easier for people pressed for time to make an appointment with a GP thanks to a new national ‘extended access’ initiative which is improving access to primary care services.

By working together in a new and different way GP practices will be improving access to primary care appointments, making it easier for local people to get the care and advice they need at a time that’s convenient to them.

This means, in addition to being able to book GP appointments at a local practice, patients will also have access to additional appointments during the evenings and at weekends at a number of locations.

Appointments are being provided through networks of local GP practices, operating across the three clinical commissioning group areas within Surrey Heartlands – North West Surrey, Guildford & Waverley and Surrey Downs.

In North West Surrey the extra appointments are being provided by the GP federation that brings together all 40 GP practices in the local area and is known as North West Surrey Integrated Care Services. These additional appointments, which can be booked through local GP practices, are available from 6-9pm on weekday evenings (including bank holidays but not in August) and from 9am to midday at weekends. As these extra appointments are provided from GP surgeries and for Woking, from Woking Community Hub (Bedsur Hub), the GP or clinician will have access to patients’ medical records, via patient consent, giving them access to all the information they would need to provide the best possible care.

Further south in Surrey Heartlands, people living in the Guildford & Waverley area also saw the new ‘extended access’ service go live this month. The service, delivered by the Procare Health GP federation, is for patients of all GP practices across Guildford& Waverley and is provided at two ‘hub’ locations– The Fairlands Practice (Worplesdon, Guildford, GU3 3NA) and Binscombe Medical Centre (106 Binscombe, Waverley, GU7 3PR).  Patients should book appointments though their own GP practice. The service provides additional GP appointments on weekday evenings (18:00-20:00), Saturdays (08:00-12:00) and Sundays (10:00-14:00).

As one of the early adopters of the extended access programme, in the Surrey Downs area, GP Health Partners already offer patients living in and around Epsom, Ewell, Ashtead, Leatherhead, Bookham and surrounding areas extra appointments during the evenings and at weekends. Anyone registered with one of these practices can contact their surgery or phone 01372 738373 from 6pm to 9pm on weekdays or from 9am to 1pm at the weekend to book an appointment.

As part of this initiative, an extended access service will also be available for people living in the East Elmbridge area from the end of September, delivered by Surrey Medical Network, and for people living in and around Dorking from October, where the service will be delivered by Dorking Healthcare.