Healthwatch has praised a pilot scheme set up by local GPS to improve access to their services outside normal working hours.

South Tees Access and Response (STAR) GP hubs were launched across South Tees to strengthen primary care by supporting existing community nursing and urgent care services across Redcar and Cleveland and Middlesbrough.

The scheme extends evening and weekend GP opening times from 6.30pm to 9.30pm, Monday to Friday, and 8am to 8pm on weekends and bank holidays with anyone wanting to see a GP accessing the service at two dedicated hubs through NHS 111.

Now a new report published by Healthwatch Middlesbrough and Redcar and Cleveland, who worked together to evaluate patient experience of the service, has been published with positive feedback.

Healthwatch teams spoke to almost 100 patients who visited STAR hubs at Linthorpe Surgery and Redcar Primary Care Hospital (Bentley Medical Practice) and also carried out a number of follow-up calls after their visit.

Overall, most patients had ‘nothing but praise about the service and the care they received, with feedback including:

  • 99% of patients were likely or very likely to recommend the STAR scheme to family and friends.
  • 95% of patients did not experience any problems booking their appointment
  • 85% felt their consultation with the GP/nurse practitioner was very useful or fairly useful
  • 99% rated reception staff’s manner and communication as good, very good or excellent
  • The vast majority found the location, east of access, parking and opening hours to be good or excellent

However Healthwatch did recommend that more work needed to be done to reinforce to patients that GP appointments needed to be made through NHS 111, as many people were just walking into the hubs.

Dr Teik Goh, the scheme’s Medical Director and a Guisborough GP, said: “The STAR scheme is all about local clinicians working for local patients during extended hours, seven days a week, and was set up to strengthen existing primary care services.

“We’re delighted to receive such as positive report from Healthwatch and are pleased that the majority of patients had a good experience with us – some of the individual comments made were lovely.

“We still need to do more work to promote the service to the wider community but its success is due to the hard work and commitment of all the staff involved.”

Click here to read the report from Healthwatch

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