Weekend opening as GPs see patients

GPS saw patients at the weekend to ease the pressure on the A&E department at St Richard’s Hospital.

Bersted Green Surgery was among the nine practices which opened on Saturday and Sunday across coastal West Sussex.

Business manager Karen Salis said about 20 patients had been seen by the two GPs who worked from midday-2.30pm on both days.

It was the second weekend in a row the surgery in Durlston Drive had opened at those times, with two GPs, as well as a special session with a single GP on New Year’s Day.

“Last weekend went very well,” she said. “Patients who rung the 111 service who needed to see a doctor spoke to a clinician at the IC24 out-of-hours service.

“If they were assessed as needing an appointment with a GP, this was booked for them to come here.

“It saved them having to go either to the A&E department at St Richard’s Hospital or the out-of-hours clinic at Bognor Regis War Memorial Hospital.”

She said the surgery could open again if needed.

NHS Coastal West Sussex Clinicial Commissing Group made the decision to pay for extra surgeries and could decide to repeat the move this weekend.

Doctors saw an extra 360 appointments last weekend across eight extra surgeries on Saturday and four on Sunday.

Dr Katie Armstrong, clinical chief officer at the group, said: “The local NHS worked extremely well together this weekend to make sure patients were able to receive the best possible care, in the most appropriate place.

“The teams across Coastal West Sussex are doing a fantastic job, and everyone came together this weekend at our hospitals, the ambulance service, 111, the out-of-hours service, and the GP surgeries who opened up on Saturday and Sunday to make this work.

“Every part of health and social care has been seeing and treating more patients than expected for this time of the year, but we are all committed to making sure patient care is the absolute priority.”

This action comes after St Richard’s Hospital and Worthing Hospital were put on ‘black alert’ – meaning bed capacity has been reached. The Observer reported last week patients were forced to queue outside the A&E department.

Dr George Findlay, the medical director at Western Sussex Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, said: “It’s a level of activity we’ve not seen before. The A&E department is extremely busy at 
both hospitals, we have patients queueing to get into the right parts of the emergency departments and we’ve actually got more patients than spaces. The staff are trying really hard to provide the best care possible, but just the sheer numbers are making that difficult to do. As soon as we clear the emergency department, we have another wave of admissions.”