Havering GP surgeries to open over weekends to avert winter A&E chaos

Dr Aggarwal wants to ease the pressure at Queen's A&E over winter

Dr Aggarwal wants to ease the pressure at Queen's A&E over winter - Credit: Archant

Havering GPs are to open their doors at weekends to help relieve the pressure on hospital A&E departments.

The new scheme, which starts this weekend, will offer patients who are ill, injured and need urgent care - but who are not a medical emergency - a weekend GP appointment in place of a long wait at A&E in Queen’s Hospital A&E, Romford, or King George Hospital, Goodmayes.

Patients can book an urgent weekend GP appointment at a nearby surgery by calling 111.

If the problem can wait until Monday, callers will be given a “passport slip” that will ensure their own GP contacts them.

A&E attendances at Barking, Havering and Redbridge University Hospitals Trust (BHRUT), which runs both hospitals, increased by 18 per cent between 2003 and 2011, with the biggest increases coming at weekends.

GP Dr Atul Aggarwal, of the Havering Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) chairman, said: “We know our local hospital (Queen’s) is likely to face serious pressures over the winter and, as local GPs, we must do our bit to help.

“Patients should only go to A&E if they have a life-threatening emergency, but sometimes they simply don’t know where they should seek help. We need to provide alternative places for patients who don’t need to be in A&E at weekends but do need to be seen quickly. By calling 111, those patients who need an urgent weekend GP appointment will get one.

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“Opening some GP surgeries at weekends this winter is a key part of our plans to make sure patients get the right care in the right place.”

Some services, such as x-rays, stitches and medical certificates are not available through the new scheme.

Local hospitals can also re-direct patients to a weekend GP surgery if it is the right place for them to be seen.

The scheme will be rolled out between now and December.

Participating practices will be open for appointments between 9.30am and 5pm on Saturdays and Sundays.