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GPs come up with radical plans to ease NHS 'winter pressures' this winter
ONE of the region's new GP-led commissioning groups has come up with radical plans to try to avoid chaos engulfing one part of the NHS this winter.
Despite North-East hospitals being controversially denied access to extra Government money this winter, GPs on the North Durham Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) have come up with their own solution.
The first move is to give County Durham and Darlington NHS Foundation Trust, which runs the University Hospital of North Durham and Darlington Memorial Hospital and other smaller hospitals, a one-off £2m allocation to spend on measures to ease winter pressures.
Unusually, the North Durham CCG has specified that the decision how the £2m is spent has to be taken by doctors, nurses and other healthcare professionals rather than senior managers.
The extra money will only be transferred if the proposals are approved by the CCG board.
In another innovative move, the CCG has persuaded most of the 31 medical practices serving North Durham to open up at weekends.
Some GPs plan to open their practices on Sundays as well as Saturdays.
What makes the move radical is the decision by practices to work closely with the 111 non-emergency NHS helpline and the accident and emergency department at the University Hospital of North Durham and accept any patient - and not just patients on their list.
Dr Neil OBrien, clinical chief officer for North Durham CCG and a Chester-le-Street GP, said: "Last winter the local NHS system was creaking at the edges and we dont want a repeat of that this year.
"We took the view that we needed to resource our main provider and we have given a sum of money to the acute trust with the condition that it is clinicians who will decide how that money is spent."
He said the main goal was to put in short-term plans to ease winter pressures.
"We are putting in £2m and we have identified another £1m for other non-recurring schemes," he added.
Dr OBrien added: "This year we have agreement that they will accept patients from other practices. It will put a lot of extra capacity into the out-of-hours system this winter."
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