What I do: Accessing local GP care: 8am-8pm, 7 days a week
Dr. Amita Varma shares her involvement with a trial programme designed to make it easier for Londoners to see a GP
My name is Amita Varma. I have been a GP in Islington for over nine years.
As an urban GP I am often at the frontline of the NHS.
I recently became involved in a “Primary Care Hub” trial, designed to help make it easier for Londoners to see a GP, from 8am — 8pm, 7 days a week.
What service is provided by the Islington primary care hubs?
Here in Islington, our “I:HUB” primary care hubs provide residents with access to local GPs in the evenings and at weekends, seven days a week.
This means that those struggling to see a GP that day, or outside the working day, now have better access and can book appointments after work or at the weekend.
Accessing the service is easy. Patients simply call their usual GP practice and, if they aren’t able to see them, will be offered an evening or weekend appointment at one of the five I:HUB locations.
The service means that Islington’s NHS-registered residents can see a GP or nurse at a local practice and nearly all the staff already work in the borough.
What is the benefit of visiting a primary care hub?
Aside from the excellent opening hours, patients love the fact that it’s run by local staff as they know they are being cared for by those with a good working knowledge of the borough and its healthcare services.
One of the beauties of I:HUB is also that, with the patient’s consent, our GPs and nurses can access a patient’s full medical record — which is something that isn’t possible with other out of hours services. This means they can provide the best care for patients and the same service they expect at their local GP practice.
How else can patients use the hubs for advice?
Residents calling a local GP practice after hours or at weekends now have the opportunity to speak by phone to an I:HUB GP. The GP will assess their situation and is able to offer advice, bring them in to see a GP or nurse or arrange an appointment for a later date. Whether you need a health check, have an on-going medical problem or have symptoms that have come on more suddenly, the GPs and nurses at I:HUB, and other similar services across the country, can now help to make primary care more accessible.
How are the hubs helping other local NHS services, like A&E, to manage demand?
In Islington we are constantly looking at new ways to help people get the right care, with the right clinician, at the right time and place.
For instance, we are offering I:HUB same day appointments to Islington patients who visit our busy A&E departments and who would be better helped and seen faster by a GP. For those patients our GPs are able to provide them with the best care for their condition, often just a short walk away. Patients spend less time waiting and pressured A&E staff can focus on those in life-threatening situations.
Why do you think 8–8, 7 day hubs are important?
I believe that as our lives become busier, whether it’s with work or caring for our loved ones, primary care hubs such as I:HUB will become an important part of making sure people can access the right care, in the right place at the right time.
As an Islington GP and one that works at the I:HUB service I may be a bit biased, but the feedback I’ve seen and heard has been incredibly positive.
Speak to your local practice to find out how you can receive the right care for your condition. I believe you would be happy with the service you receive.