WORK is being carried out across the district to improve patient access to GPs.

NHS Airedale, Wharfedale and Craven clinical commissioning group (CCG) is implementing a range of measures aimed at ensuring people can obtain help when they need it.

Dr James Thomas, clinical chairman of the CCG, said: “One of our top priorities is making sure that people who need to get an appointment at their GP practice can get one.

“We know from the latest GP patient survey that 85 per cent of people in our area said that their experience of their GP practice was good.

“However, there is lots that we are doing to improve that experience.

“This year we have rolled out extended access, which means people can get an appointment at a practice in the evenings and weekends.

“We’ve heard great feedback that this service is helping people get the right assistance at a time that’s convenient for them. This is also supported by same-day online appointments with a GP using an app called Push Doctor.

“We have also introduced care navigation, where the practice receptionists ask people for a brief outline of how they can help. This enables people to get the most appropriate care quicker, which might not be by seeing a GP, but a physiotherapist or a nurse.”

Dr Thomas says that as part of efforts to reduce pressure on GP surgeries, the CCG is encouraging people to approach their pharmacy first with questions regarding minor illnesses – such as coughs and colds – or medicines.

“People can drop in for advice at their pharmacy without an appointment – and most now have consultation rooms where people can discuss their concern in confidence,” he added.

This year’s GP patient survey received 1,898 responses in Airedale, Wharfedale and Craven, equating to 1.2 per cent of the population.

Seventy per cent of respondents said they were seen within a few days of their appointment being booked, and half of those were seen on the same or following day.

A fifth of patients waited a week or more for their appointment.

The percentage of people offered a choice of appointment was 57.

And 75 per cent of patients said they were happy with the type of appointment offered.