Barking and Dagenham out-of-hours GP hub saves 10,000 patients from A&E a year
- Credit: Archant
An out-of-hours GP service is helping 10,000 patients who would otherwise have ended up in A&E.
Dr Arun Sharma chairs Together First, a provider that introduced the evening and weekend hubs in Barking Community Hospital and Broad Street Centre in Morland Road, Dagenham.
“GPs are struggling in terms of volumes, demand is increasing,” he explained.
“I believe the satisfaction rates are very high, more than 50 per cent of the 21,000 patients we see annually would have gone to A&E if they hadn’t been seen here.”
The 52-year-old says the service, now in its third year, is continuing to experience high demand.
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“We tend to see acute illness of any kind,” he said. “This could be anything from general pains to abdominal pains and breathing problems and pains in the chest.”
The GP at Laburnum Health Centre, Dagenham, added: “The population of Barking and Dagenham is generally a bit younger than the rest of the population, so we see quite a lot of children. Sometimes they come after school if they’ve fallen ill the same day and haven’t been able to book a normal GP appointment.”
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Dr Jagan John, clinical director of Barking and Dagenham CCG, comes straight from his day job as a GP at Barking’s King Edwards Medical Centre to work twice a week at the hub at Barking Community Hospital in Upney Lane.
“Initially I wanted to see how the service was run, but now it’s become almost a pastime for me,” he said.
“I think it’s an excellent service, I think it’s been very well run. Patients have found it very beneficial for them.”
As A&E departments fail to meet their waiting time targets, could this provide a stepping stone to the round-the-clock service the government has been pushing for?
“I don’t think a seven-day service is a feasible idea,” Dr John admitted. “This kind of service though is a viable option.”
In January, weekend services at the hubs were expanded by five hours a day to 8am-8pm on Saturday and Sunday – providing an extra 2,000 appointments between January and the end of March.
“Attitudes for people seeing their doctors during their own working hours are difficult,” he added. “I get the impression that people are a lot more fearful to miss work so this is a real benefit to them.”
Dr Sharma said it was about “more than putting on a few extra appointments”.
“The fundamental change is to get practices working much more closely together, much more integrated,” he said.
“Demand is growing. I’m not sure the service will extend any longer [hours wise] but it needs to increase capacity within these hours.”
To book an appointment, call 020 3770 1888 between 2pm and 9pm on weekdays.
Alternatively, call your own GP or ring the NHS on 111.
Appointments must be booked in advance. Patients can’t walk in or turn up on the day without an appointment.