Since 3 April, residents of Buckinghamshire have been able to access primary care services more easily outside of regular daytime hours – with services working more closely to offer a smoother, simpler experience for patients 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
NHS Aylesbury Vale and NHS Chiltern Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs), which buy in health services for the county, have awarded a new contract to provide these services to a ‘collaborative’ of NHS providers.
These services will include access to urgent GP appointments and healthcare advice for minor illnesses and injuries.
This ‘collaborative’ is made up of:
- Buckinghamshire Healthcare NHS Trust, which is responsible for providing hospital and NHS community services
- FedBucks, which represents the majority of Buckinghamshire GP practices
- Oxford Health NHS Foundation Trust, which is responsible for providing mental health services
- South Central Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust, which provides the ambulance response service and the NHS 111 service
People in Bucks will be able to access the service in several ways – when calling their GP surgery number outside of its regular hours, when seeking urgent healthcare advice via the national NHS 111 phone service or when attending the Minor Injuries and Illness Unit at Wycombe Hospital.
By working so closely to deliver this service, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, the organisations involved plan to provide smoother transitions and referrals to follow-on care for patients with urgent healthcare needs, making the way they receive treatment easier to navigate and understand.
Dr Rebecca Mallard-Smith, Clinical Director for Unplanned Community Care for the CCGs, said: “This new, more joined up way of working will mean that we can align healthcare services across the whole 24 hour period so that routine and urgent primary care becomes seamless and patients find it easier to access the care they need.
“The key benefit to patients is that we can further join-up more of our NHS services, including local integration with NHS 111, directing patients to the best place for their needs so they can access the right care at the right time.
“Throughout the next year, as other changes to NHS services begin to roll out that enhance this new contract, we will work together, with our public and patients, to develop care that is based on the needs of our local communities.”
Dr Tina Kenny, Medical Director at Buckinghamshire Healthcare NHS Trust said: “Patients tell us that choosing how to access NHS urgent care services out of hours is sometimes confusing – this new contract will allow us to develop swifter access to clear advice and treatment when our patients in Buckinghamshire need the NHS the most.”