By Nicky Roberts, Deputy Clinical Manager from Bridgewater Community Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust’s GP Out of Hours service
If you feel ill during the evening or at a weekend, it is important to think carefully before you head straight to your local accident and emergency department.
By choosing the right service for your needs, you will get the most appropriate treatment and you can also help alleviate some of the pressures on your local hospital. One of the options available in Wigan is GP out of Hours
Wigan’s GP Out of Hours Service provides essential care for patients and families when the borough’s GP practices are closed.
Working through the night, at weekends and on bank holidays, the service is there for anyone who needs help for urgent healthcare problems that cannot safely wait until their own GP surgery is open.
The service has a small number of GPs who work regularly to provide patient care in the small hours and they are always supported by at least one experienced nurse.
They are joined by a team of call handlers who take details from patients and place them in the call queue to be assessed.
It’s important for people to know that patients will be provided with appropriate type of care based on their own individual health needs.
Our experienced nurses will carry out an initial assessment process and decide whether a patient needs to speak to a GP over the phone for advice and reassurance, or a patient may be asked to come down for a face to face appointment at the GP Out of Hours base in Ince.
Our GPs do visit patients at home but this has to be limited to those patients who are very poorly and being cared for in their own home or for those patients who have severe mobility restrictions.
All patients need to access the service by dialling the North West Ambulance 111 number and may even be advised to seek treatment from another healthcare service such as A&E if they are thought to be suffering from a life threatening illness or injury.
As our service is designed to provide urgent care that cannot wait until the next working day there are a number of things that we cannot provide including repeat prescriptions, giving out routine blood results and booking appointments with a patient’s own GP.
We also cannot see any patients that present at the Out of Hours base without an appointment and who have not contacted 111.
GPs can receive blood results out of hours in special circumstances and if the results have any abnormalities that are cause for concern, the GP will then call the patient to offer advice or conduct a home visit.
We always try to keep to time, but the nature of our service means there will always be more urgent cases that have to be prioritised.
Unfortunately we cannot predict delays but we will always try to explain them to patients.
Already this year we have dealt with more than 13,000 calls to the service, helping to alleviate the pressures on our local hospitals, and our most recent survey in June 2017 showed a 100% patient satisfaction rate.
The service is open:
- Monday to Thursday 6.30pm – 8am
- Wednesday 1pm – 8am
- Friday 6.30pm to Monday 8am
- 24 hours on Bank Holidays
Find out more about Wigan’s GP out of Hours service at: www.bridgewater.nhs.uk/ashtonleighwigan/gpoutofhours.