A MAJOR change to the way you book appointments with your GP could see you turned away at the surgery.
Under a new ‘red alert’ system, doctors will be able to refuse appointments and send patients to other surgeries for treatment.
Different NHS trusts opt for different policies when it comes to booking appointments.
Many opt for an online consultation, with a doctor getting back to patients within a 48 hour period.
Others still use a system whereby those needing an appointment have to call at 8am, only to be placed in a long queue, before being told all appointments have been allocated for the day.
Under new plans as part of a pilot in Devon, family doctors will also be given the right to take most appointments virtually.
While this was a plan rolled out during the Covid pandemic, many surgeries have kept a mixed approach to seeing patients.
Under periods of high demand, Integrated Care Boards commission GP services and are already urged to work with other local trusts and organisations.
This is so all patient care can be met in a timely fashion.
Devon Local Medical Committee (LMC) will be part of the trial until December.
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Other counties may follow suit, but the NHS says there are currently no plans for it to be rolled out on a wider scale.
GP surgeries in Devon will have to provide weekly updates on figures related to appointments and patient numbers.
If the level of pressure on doctors is deemed too great, then surgeries will be able to take steps to stop this, the Daily Mail reported.
This would include the suspension of routine appointments and specific hotlines sit up to take pressure off practices.
In a statement the NHS said: “This is a local pilot scheme agreed by NHS Devon ICS and there are no plans to roll it out nationally.
“GP teams are delivering more appointments than ever before – with 11 million more this year compared with the same period last year, and anyone who needs one will continue to get an appointment.”
Patients were also given another blow last week after a major change to maternity care was revealed.
In a previous review, bosses had stated that hospitals should offer ‘continuity of care’.
These plans, originally proposed in 2016, would mean that women would have the same midwife from their very first scan, right until they give birth to their child.
Now the NHS has admitted that this standard of care might not always be possible.
In a letter sent to trust chief nurses, trust directors of midwifery and medical directors, NHS bosses set out ‘essential and immediate changes’ to the national midwifery programme.
Despite the changes in policies across trusts, new health care secretary Thérèse Coffey said she would be the ‘champion’ of patients.
She last week addressed issues with appointments and said sick Brits should be able to see a GP within a fortnight and on the same day if their case is urgent.
However, she insisted there would be no changes to four-hour A&E waiting time targets for patients in England.
The Health Secretary had reportedly been considering abolishing the target, but she told MPs she remains committed to it.
At present, just 58 per cent of patients being sent to A&E are being seen within the four hour target.
Many more have had to endure waits of more than 12 hours just to be seen by a medic.