This practice introduced an urgent care service for children and cut local A&E attendances by 40 per cent in the under-16 age group.
Dr Charles Alessi and his team serve a diverse population with extremes of wealth and poverty. They noticed that they were seeing few children in afternoon surgeries and found that residents from a deprived estate were going to the A&E unit instead.
The Churchill Medical Centre had already improved access for its 15,000 patients by opening 8am to 8pm Monday to Friday, with a full service on Saturday mornings and an emergency surgery on Sunday mornings.
It decided to reorganise its afternoon surgeries and 'rebrand' a clinic as an 'urgent care children's service'.
Dr Alessi said: 'This is not an initiative that really costs anything. It's about changing surgeries around and making sure people know we are doing it. That's the trick.'
The popular new service runs from 4.30pm to 7pm on weekdays. Families know they will always be seen by a doctor they know in familiar surroundings with their medical records.
Dr Alessi said: 'We had achieved what we wanted to achieve, which was a better service for our patients. We later saw the hospital data for the year and were amazed that we seemed to have had an enormous effect on attendances at A&E, which we had not even set out to do.'
Attendances at A&E by under-16s had fallen by nearly 40 per cent in surgery hours, and by almost 30 per cent out of hours - suggesting that the in-hours urgent care service had also reduced demand at night.
Dr Alessi said the initiative would work best in larger practices but smaller practices could group together to provide the same service.
'This is something that every general practice should be providing as a service to patients across the NHS.'
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