More cash to cut GP waiting lists in UK's worst area

PUBLISHED: 19:06 06 December 2007 | UPDATED: 11:07 13 July 2010

Dr Howell... tackling waiting lists at her GP surgery

Dr Howell... tackling waiting lists at her GP surgery

PATIENTS in London s deprived East End are getting a new deal to get to see their GP within 48 hours. More funds are being been injected into surgeri

By Gemma Collins

PATIENTS in London's deprived East End are getting a 'new deal' to get to see their GP within 48 hours.

More funds are being been injected into surgeries by Tower Hamlets Primary Care trust to cut waiting lists to see doctors.

This comes after Tower Hamlets was named worst performing trust in the country for GP waiting times in the last Healthcare Commission report.

Fewer than seven out of 10 patients were able to see a doctor within 48 hours, compared to the national average of nearly nine out of 10.

But one surgery, St Stephen's health centre, is already ahead of the game.

It offers its 10,000 patients appointments within 48 hours of contact.

"It hasn't been easy, it's taken a great deal of commitment," said practice partner Dr Siân Howell.

"We've gone from patients, doctors and staff being frustrated at a long wait for appointments, to a system offering a fast and comprehensive service."

Four years ago, patients had to wait 17 days for a consultation at the practice in William-place, off the Roman-road in Bow.

But now staff make sure there are enough GPs available to hold at least 550 appointments a week.

The centre has 10 GPs, practice and community nurses, a phlebotomist who takes blood tests and health-care assistants who run stop-smoking services and blood pressure monitoring clinics.

There is also member of staff who patients can contact when they have problems with hospital referrals, freeing up time for GPs to see new patients, while practice nurses have taken on extra responsibility for chronic diseases including diabetes.

The surgery also has interpreters to help patients who speak Bangla or Sylheti.

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