One year on and health hubs are easing pressure on Redbridge GPs

Southdene Surgery in South Woodford is offering evening and weekend emergency GP appointments

Southdene Surgery in South Woodford is offering evening and weekend emergency GP appointments - Credit: Archant

The chairman of a GPs’ group holding after hours doctors appointments says it is all about “adding value” to health services in the borough.

Southdene Surgery in South Woodford is offering evening and weekend emergency GP appointments

Southdene Surgery in South Woodford is offering evening and weekend emergency GP appointments - Credit: Archant

Dr Ed Diggines of Healthbridge Direct, which holds appointments on behalf of Redbridge Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) at three Redbridge surgeries, spoke to the Recorder after a year of managing the service.

The surgeries operate between 6.30pm and 10pm on weekdays, 9am and 5pm on Saturdays, and between 9am and 1pm on Sundays at Southdene Surgery, The Shrubberies, South Woodford, Newbury Group Practice, Perrymans Farm Road, Newbury Park, and Fullwell Cross Medical Centre, Tomswood Hill, Barkingside.

“In essence it’s extended access to general practice and it’s been really well-received,” said Dr Diggines. “You can book and turn up and people are rarely waiting for more than five minutes.”

The Woodford Green GP said a “big step” has been gaining access to patients’ records.

“It’s now possible to see summary care records. We have created a system where we can read notes from their GPs and we can write back into these notes.

“It makes a massive difference to the patient experience. For them, the last thing they want to do is tell their whole story every time they see a doctor.

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“The doctor has all the facts and the system works more efficiently now – it gives them [the patients] more reassurance.”

Dr Diggines said it was about maintaining continuity.

“It matters a lot,” he said. “It’s important, it’s at the heart of it, they [the hubs] have greater impact in certain situations and we want to make sure the patients have continuity when they want to have continuity.”

Services for a young person who works may be different for an older person with a long-term condition, he explained.

“They [older people] might not want to go to the hubs,” he added.

Dr Diggines insisted the hubs would not replace registered GPs, but would continue to offer an alternative service which runs side-by-side.

“Our intention is not to carry on increasing these hubs,” he said. “The biggest challenge with everything is coming up with a service that’s integrated and makes sense. People expect it to feel like one organisation, they see the NHS as one thing.

“But in reality contracts are set up in isolation so it’s about making sure we don’t create something that’s confusing.”

Dr Diggines said the hubs service, which has allowed for about 22,500 same day appointments since last year, was about reducing pressure on surgeries.

But said: “Things have not changed, your first port of call should be your community pharmacist and your registered GP.”

To book an appointment call 020 3770 1888.

Patients ‘pleased’

Making use of the after-hours services is mum Georgia Murdoch-Davis, 27, from Woodford Green.

“It’s really convenient,” said the parent, who brought in her one-year-old son George to Southdene Surgery, The Shrubberies, South Woodford.

“He’s had a cough for a few weeks and this morning I was trying to get an appointment with my doctor, but the surgery said they were fully booked.

“They told me to phone a number and I was quite happy and surprised that they sorted it out quite quickly.”

She added: “It’s quite convenient for those who work too.”

Another patient using the service at Southdene Surgery was Craig Mountford, 39, from South Woodford.

“It’s extremely useful to know it’s there,” said the software developer, who had came to see a doctor about a pain in his leg.

“I would only use it if it was really necessary but it’s reassuring to know it’s there.”

Craig said he wanted to see his doctor in the morning but could not get an appointment.

He added: “I’m lucky because I’m quite flexible but someone like my flatmate could be very reliant on it.”

He added: “I’m very pleased with service.”

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