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Bury GP Federation: Blazing a trail for seven-day GP surgeries

Working with Bury GP Federation, a group of practices in the Greater Manchester borough, we helped create a pioneering service offering evening and weekend doctors’ appointments. First we helped bid for government funding then designed the service with the practices. It was one of the first ‘wave’ of 20 pilots in England.

We consulted Federation member and shareholder practices on the kind of service patients would use, and likely demand. That helped reassure them the service would be based on their data and insights. Together we designed a service to meet the specific needs and preferences of the local population, recognising that some people prefer seeing a doctor at weekends so they don’t miss work or so they can bring a relative. Others like to go on their way to work or somewhere they go regularly.

We developed a pilot service in six months, handling issues like designing the patient experience, working through the commercial arrangements between the service and practices whose buildings it would use, and working with the service providers to develop the right IT systems for sharing patients’ records effectively. Ten GPs worked from three ‘hub’ clinics from early December 2014, with over 10 practices involved. Patients could book appointments from 8am-8pm on weekdays and 8am-6pm at weekends.

In six months, we’d helped scale up to five hubs offering over 4,000 extra appointments a month. And ninety-nine percent of patients interviewed after appointments said they were satisfied. Thirty out of 33 Bury GP practices had signed up and over 190,000 residents (95% of the population) could access the service. This success informed new national policy for all NHS GP practices across England to offer a seven-day service.

"PA Consulting gave us invaluable support with this project, without which we would not have delivered these services on time and to budget. As a small organisation we could not have mobilised the resources required in-house but within 2 weeks of signing-off our agreement we had 15 subject experts working on the project. PA were diligent in their work and showed great commitment to ensuring that they worked closely with all key stakeholders through a flexible and inclusive approach. We valued the consistency of senior relationships throughout this contract and felt that this was a genuine partnership arrangement."

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