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Bus converted to touring GP practice to promote flexible appointments

by Awil Mohamoud
21 February 2020

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Patients will be able to see a GP or nurse on a touring bus without booking an appointment this month in a new scheme designed to promote extended access appointments. 

The bus health service, which started this week in Doncaster, is being parked at local town centres and markets on scheduled dates throughout February. 

The converted bus, which is on loan from the local mental health trust, runs like a regular general practice. The onboard GP has, among other things, carried out regular blood pressure checks and has given advice and guidance to patients.

More than 80 people saw a GP or nurse on the bus in its first three days.

Doncaster CCG launched the project in a bid to promote and encourage the use of its extended appointment hours – something few people have been taking advantage of.

The CCG has made 160 extra hours of appointments available during early mornings, late evenings and weekends as part of the national extended access service.

However, only 50-60% of the out-of-hours appointments are used each week.

Primary care Doncaster chief executive Laura Sherburn said: ‘The idea behind using the health bus came about as a result of trying new ways to provide GP and nurse appointments for patients in Doncaster.

‘Whilst this way of providing appointments will only be available during February, it’s another way of responding to what local people are asking for; to be able to see a GP or nurse at a time to suit them.

Doncaster CCG director of strategy and delivery Anthony Fitzgerald said: ‘We’ve had some feedback from patients that there is a little bit of a reluctance or fear of seeing a professional outside of their normal GP practice.

‘There is a fear about what their GP is going to think if they see someone else. We need to dispel some of those myths. This has been a good opportunity to do so.

‘The feedback we are getting from the GPs on the bus is that they are seeing people who wouldn’t necessarily always visit a GP surgery. The convenience and the very fact that it is there has given them the opportunity to take the plunge to see a professional.’