A health service initiative promises ‘same-day access’ to GPs – even though patients have only a one in 15 chance of actually seeing a doctor.

Health officials said the plans, which affect around 2.8million residents in north London, will boost access to medical professionals and improve care.

Patients who select ‘same-day’ when phoning their GP practice will be directed to a new ‘hub’, with artificial intelligence helping to prioritise the most pressing cases.

However, documents produced by North West London Integrated Care Board suggest that each hub could be staffed by just one GP, with most of the work done by less qualified members of the team. The briefing pack, seen by Pulse magazine, suggests that of the 146 appointments every day, just ten would be staffed by GPs.

The remainder will be carried out by pharmacists, advanced nurse practitioners – and controversial physician associates who have just two years of medical training.

Health officials said the plans, which affect around 2.8million residents in north London, will boost access to medical professionals and improve care (Stock Image)

Health officials said the plans, which affect around 2.8million residents in north London, will boost access to medical professionals and improve care (Stock Image)

Officials said patients seeking same-day care may need to travel further to be seen or accept a remote appointment over the phone or video (Stock Image)

Officials said patients seeking same-day care may need to travel further to be seen or accept a remote appointment over the phone or video (Stock Image)

Officials said patients seeking same-day care may need to travel further to be seen or accept a remote appointment over the phone or video.

A letter from medical committees across London, which represent the capital’s GPs, raises concerns about patient safety associated with the hub scheme.

It warns that the model will undermine ‘continuity of care’ and suggests that arrangements for one GP to supervise a host of other staff are ‘unsafe’.

Meanwhile, campaign group Save Our NHS Hammersmith And Fulham said the plans ‘would exclude GPs from almost all provision of ‘same day’ GP care for over 2million people’. And Dennis Reed, from Silver Voices, a campaign group for the over-60s, said he was concerned that such a step would end up ‘abandoning the GP system altogether’.

Dr Genevieve Small, Harrow GP and medical director for Primary Care NHS North West London, said: ‘Patients consistently tell us that getting a GP appointment can be difficult. We have developed a plan that will increase same-day access to GPs, community pharmacists and other primary care professionals for those patients who need it.

‘This approach will be introduced gradually across north-west London from April 2024. It will ensure that GPs have more time to pro-actively care for their patients who most need their expertise, including those with long-term conditions.’

Professor Kamila Hawthorne, chairman of the Royal College of GPs, said family doctors were open to ways of improving access, which could involve new hubs.

But she added: ‘We do have concerns about how this model could impact continuity of care, which research consistently shows is beneficial for both patients and the NHS.’

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