More Areas To Get Extra GPs And Sexual Health Services

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Extra GPs

Patients right across the North West are to benefit from the next round in the drive to find extra GPs.

Health Minister Andy Burnham today announced the next five areas that will benefit from the programme which will help around 55,000 thousand patients get easier access to family doctors and sexual health clinics.

The new services expected to open are extra family practices, walk-in sexual health centres and family planning services. Next to benefit will be Ashton Leigh and Wigan, Bolton, East Lancashire, Manchester and Trafford with other areas also set to join the programme in the coming months. The contracts for the new services will run for an initial five years, with the potential to extend for longer.

The 'Fairness in Primary Care Procurement' programme is expected to provide patients with better access to a family doctor and more choice of GP, including flexible opening hours and extended services, such as minor surgery. All local residents will have the choice to access any new services.

New services being planned in each of the five areas include:

Ashton Leigh and Wigan - extra general practices in Ashton in Makerfield and Golborne, Atherton and Tyldesley, Ince and Platt Bridge and Leigh and Higher Folds.

Bolton - an extra general practice

Trafford - a walk-in sexual health and family planning service

East Lancashire - an extra general practice in Accrington

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Manchester -an extra general practice in Charlestown.

Health Minister Andy Burnham said:

"I am delighted to be able to announce that five more areas in the North West will benefit from extra primary care services which will enable 55,000 thousand more patients to get access to essential services.

"GPs are largely providing a good service, but there are still areas where NHS patients cannot rely on traditional practices. We want to continue to help the NHS plug these remaining gaps by introducing these new services, reducing the pressure on existing practices and giving patients the choice they deserve.

"This is yet another step towards delivering our pledge made in January 2006, in the White Paper, 'Our Health, Our Care, Our Say' to establish a national procurement programme addressing the health inequalities in the most under-doctored areas throughout England."

Although there is no national shortage of GPs, towns and cities with the most GPs have more than double the least. All the five areas involved in this next wave of the programme currently have significantly fewer GPs per person than the national average of 57.9 GPs per 100,000 people (Ashton Leigh and Wigan 45.1; Bolton 54.8; Trafford 51.5; Manchester 47.8; East Lancashire 46.7). The department aims to bring these areas up to at least the national average.

The Department of Health-led procurement will provide the local NHS with access to resources and expertise. The department will centrally manage the procurement process for Primary Care Trusts (PCTs), while PCTs will own, manage and sign-off their local contracts.

Over the coming months, the department will work with further PCTs with the fewest GPs for their populations, as identified in the white paper, as well as other relatively under-doctored or Spearhead PCTs, to invite new providers to deliver extra local services.

The programme aims to attract a broad range of providers, from existing entrepreneurial GPs to social enterprises and corporate independent providers.

Advertisements will appear in both the national and local media from the end of June to help ensure that the full range of potential providers are aware of the programme, including local GPs.

New services are expected to open to patients by Spring 2008.

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