Tue 18th December 2018 4.59PM

GPs across Trafford are urging patients not to waste appointments after figures showed that despite practices pooling resources to offer patients seven day access to doctors, patients missed more than 200 evening and weekend appointments last month.
Trafford Primary Health – the federation of local GP surgeries behind the extended hours initiative to benefit Trafford patients – is calling for patients to contact their practice if they are unable to make an appointment so it can be used by someone eager to receive health care.
And with the onset of winter pressures on the NHS, appointments can be precious. National figures from NHS Digital revealed nearly five million patients were unable to see their GP within two weeks in October, while a million had to wait four weeks for an appointment. And data also showed more than a million appointments being wasted each month.
Said Dr Marik Sangha, Director of Trafford Primary Health and a GP Partner at St Johns Medical Centre, Altrincham: “Winter is always a busy time for the NHS. The additional evening and weekend appointments are proving popular with patients, but we would urge those unable to make their appointment to call their GP practice so the appointment can be used to benefit someone else.
“In the past four months 7375 weekend/evening appointments were booked by patients across the four Trafford ‘hubs’, but patients did not arrive for 762 appointments: that’s more than 10% which could have been used by other patients needing medical care.”
In a bid to cut DNAs (Did Not Attends) practices are now phoning patients the day before their booked evening or weekend appointment to confirm their attendance. Added Dr Sangha: “While this does take time, it is already showing positive results with DNA numbers at the St John’s ‘hub’ cut to 7% and continuing to improve. This approach is now being rolled out across Trafford practices in an effort to ensure patients attend their appointments.”
Trafford’s GPs, nurses and health care professionals dedicated to providing patients with seven day care via Trafford’s four ‘neighbourhood hubs’ - St Johns Medical Centre in Altrincham, Firsway Health Centre in Sale, North Trafford Group Practice in Stretford and Flixton Road Medical Centre, Urmston – and all keen to reduce the numbers of appointments which patients did not attend.
Dr Paul Jackson, GP Partner at Boundary House Medical Centre, Sale, also a Director at Trafford Primary Health: said “We are here to help and are committed to improving the health of Trafford patients. Working together – sharing staff and skills - has enabled Trafford GPs, nurses and health care providers to offer weekday clinics from 8am to 8pm, plus Saturday and Sunday from 9am to 1pm and create more than 1,600 more appointments each month for Trafford patients. But with the NHS under increasing pressure – especially during winter – it’s frustrating that appointments are not being used. We’d urge patients to call their practice if they are unable to make an appointment so it can be used to benefit another person.”