rent residents reacted with delight as waiting times for face-to-face doctors’ appointments were slashed, thanks to Brent Primary Care health chiefs’ use of NHS Winter Access funding.
The North West London Clinical Commissioning Group used the cash to provide additional weekend appointments in hubs across the borough, as well as funding extra services for mental health, learning disability and dementia patients. Their aim was to ensure people received timely medical care, as well as reducing pressure on GPs and A&E departments.
One patient told Healthwatch Brent, “I am 87 years old recovering from a stroke and I have disabled daughter, this weekend appointment has helped me so much.”
Other residents were also positive about the scheme. Healthwatch Brent interviewed forty people who booked weekend appointments at the Mapesbury Medical Group, Jai Medical Centre, Freuchen Medical Centre and Park Royal Medical Practice hubs.
Before the initiative, many reported waiting up to two weeks to see a doctor, while one person had not seen their GP for two years.
All patients surveyed were pleased to be offered a weekend appointment and 95% found it easy to book a slot. 93% rated their overall experience as “excellent” or “good.” Most had been contacted proactively by surgeries to inform them of the scheme.
Mental health patients also benefitted from the funding which included Mental Health Crisis Support. This is to provide early interventions for patients at high risk of experiencing mental health crises.
The Ashford Place Community Centre delivered the extra services for people with learning disabilities and other mental health issues. This included help arranging GP appointments, health checks and blood tests.
As well as helping access clinical services, the centre also gave advice on housing, benefits and support for carers, a holistic approach to aid overall wellbeing.
Healthwatch Brent visited Ashford Place and talked to over 20 people using the service. Only one had visited A&E since the scheme began, while many others stated that the access to health checks at the centre meant they had not needed to visit their GP.
People also reported that social activities at the centre helped counteract loneliness. One woman said, “I never used to leave the house, but now there have been changes since using this service. I am more confident and can now go to different places.”
Read our evaluation reports to find out more, or watch the video below to see comments from patients who benefited from the services.