Open all hours… nearly: Greater Manchester to lead way with seven-day health access transformation

Ambitious plans to ensure everyone living in Greater Manchester who needs medical help will have same-day access to primary care seven days a week are to be announced today.

Currently 500,000 people in Greater Manchester are already covered and this will increase to 1.1m people, through new initiatives in Wigan and across the city of Manchester funded by over £8m from the national Prime Minister’s Challenge Fund.

Today’s announcement confirms plans to extend this provision across the whole of Greater Manchester (a further 1.7m people), with a further £7m of investment to facilitate this expansion.

The plans – which will be outlined at the GM Primary Care Summit this afternoon – are all part of a transformation programme in primary care across the region.

They are also the first milestones after the region’s historic devolution of health and care announcement in February involving NHS England, 12 NHS Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs), 15 NHS providers and 10 local authorities.

Ian Williamson, Chief Officer for Greater Manchester Health and Social Care Devolution, said: “We now have a tremendous opportunity to build on established good practice and learning in Greater Manchester, so that we can close the health inequalities gap between our region and the rest of the UK.

“Devolution hasn’t created these new seven-day systems of working – but it can help to propel those results quicker across Greater Manchester, through a cemented regional partnership, increased freedoms and flexibilities to make local decisions – and less bureaucratic impediments.”

The announcement follows independent evaluation, also published today, of the Greater Manchester ‘Demonstrator’ or pilot sites across the region, which tested new ways of working in primary care.

Conference delegates will hear the impact of the Greater Manchester Demonstrator sites which all trialled seven-day access in Manchester, Bury, Heywood and Middleton.

Research shows that the overall effect of these led to a reduction of 3% in total A&E activity compared with the rest of Greater Manchester.

Key report findings include:

  • Central Manchester’s scheme showed an 8% reduction in minor A&E attendance. This equates to a decrease of £425,000 in minor A& E costs;
  • Bury’s Demonstrator showed a 38% reduction in usage of the out of hours service, which is thought may have contributed to a decrease of £43,000 in total A&E costs

Sir Howard Bernstein, joint chair of the Greater Manchester Health and Social Care Devolution Programme Board, said: “Seven-day access has the potential to transform health outcomes for the region – and it’s also part of wider measures to help take the pressure off hospitals.

“The evaluation of the Demonstrator projects has helped us gain great insight into what helps both patients and doctors. They were called Demonstrators – because their main aim was to trial different ways of working that help patients and GPs.

“Our main aim now is to ensure that we put people and place ahead of any organisational priorities in the region. This will be complemented by the efforts and dedication of collective action based on reforming public services so that we can focus on early, proactive help for the people of Greater Manchester.”

Seven-day access models differ from the established out of hours system as patients can pre-book an appointments and also because the seven-day system gives the GP access to the patient’s medical records, with the patient’s consent.

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