Surgeries could open until 10pm

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DOCTORS’ surgeries across Wigan borough and Greater Manchester could open from 8am until 10pm under radical plans to modernise the health service.

Health chiefs want to improve access to primary care in the region – and believe that extended opening hours during the week could reduce unnecessary hospital visits.

They are also encouraging surgeries to open more during the weekend.

They say that sick people are being forced to go to A&E during evenings and weekends because GP practices are shut – and they cannot wait until the next day for treatment.

But patients say that they would rather be treated closer to home and now the local NHS is looking at ways to meet their wishes as part of a review of services.

Around 150 senior GPs and experts attended a Greater Manchester primary care medical summit to discuss the shake-up.

It is understood that not every practice would open until late – but it is hoped that as many as possible would take part.

Statistics show that up to 40 per cent of people who go to A&E with minor injuries and illnesses could have been treated by their GP if they had been able to get an appointment.

Bosses say that traditional opening times – 9am to 5pm – no longer suit modern lifestyles and are not fit for the 21st century.

They believe that offering more evening and weekend appointments would also help businesses – with people not having to take time off work to go to consultations.

The matter will be considered as part of a wider review of the region’s £6bn health economy, known as Healthier Together.

The roles of hospitals are likely to change, with some taking on a wider remit as centres of excellence – and top consultants working around the clock. A public consultation on the matter is expected later this year.