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Home Industry News Extended GP surgery hours ‘linked with fewer emergency visits’

Extended GP surgery hours ‘linked with fewer emergency visits’

7th September 2016

A new study has indicated that extending GP surgery hours could result in reduced visits to accident and emergency departments.

The University of Manchester research analysed data from nearly three million patients from 525 GP surgeries in north-west England, finding that patients who had access to GP surgeries with longer opening times during evenings and weekends made fewer emergency department visits.

Extended-access GP surgeries had a 26.4 percent relative reduction in patient-initiated emergency department visits for minor problems, equating to nearly 11,000 fewer visits. However, this delivered cost savings of only 767,976 pounds – less than one-quarter of the extra funds allocated to the surgeries to extend their hours.

Lead author William Whittaker, research fellow in health economics at the University of Manchester, said: "Extending opening hours in primary care may be a useful addition to policies aiming to reduce pressures on hospital services, potentially reducing patient-initiated use of the emergency department for minor problems – but at a significant cost."

However, it was noted that the study did not examine data on health outcomes, meaning the potential benefits to patients using additional appointments who would not have visited emergency departments otherwise were not taken into account.

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