Nearly 3,000 GP appointments have been booked directly by NHS 111 call handlers since the launch of a new scheme at North East Ambulance Service.
The GP In-hours Booking pilot, which is an NHS England initiative, allows 111 call handlers to book timely appointments or telephone consultations for North East patients directly at their own GP practice.
As well as taking away the need for patients to make a further call to their own GP, the pilot aims to improve levels of care and reduce follow-up calls into 111 from patients who couldn’t get an appointment.
NEAS was the first NHS 111 provider able to access the appointment ledgers of GP Practices.
Since its launch in June,144 GP practices have gone live on the system, with 2,796 appointments being booked directly by 111. These figures are expected to double in the near future as more regional GPs come on board.
Lee Henderson, who is leading on the project, said: “This scheme puts the patient at its heart to improve levels of care, at the same time as diverting them away from unnecessary and costly services.
“By being able to make a timely GP appointment directly for the patient it means they get the best and most appropriate care quickly. It also helps reduce inappropriate attendance at hospital A&E departments, improve efficiencies within GP surgeries and reduces follow-up calls to 111.”