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EDITIONS
Tuesday, 18 February, 2003, 17:45 GMT
Skill-sharing cuts doctors' workload
Nurse
Nurses are carrying out consultations for doctors
Patients at doctors' surgeries in Greater Manchester could find they are treated by the receptionists.

A new scheme in Oldham is designed to improve services and free up GPs so that they can see patients more quickly.

Receptionists have been trained in basic medical skills, including taking blood samples and taking blood pressure readings.

Nurses also ease doctors' workload by carrying out initial consultations.

We can now guarantee an appointment in under 24 hours, usually with the doctors of the patient's choice

Dr Hugh Sturgess, Hopwood House
The Collaborative Working System has been praised by Prime Minister Tony Blair - and led to a reduction in waiting times.

Oldham Primary Care Trust has led the project and paid for the training of new health care assistant posts.

A review by the trust has shown that at the Hopwood House practice 50 GP appointments a month were saved by highlighting nurse-led services.

About 85% of patients using a special telephone consultation line at Failsworth Medical Centre did not then require a GP appointment.

Minimal cost

The scheme has also led to a reduction in waiting times to see a GP at Chadderton town health centre from 10 days at the peak of demand, to same-day service.

Dr Hugh Sturgess, of Hopwood House, said: "Prior to joining the collaborative, patients with routine problems could have been waiting for anything from three to five days to see a GP.

"We can now guarantee an appointment in under 24 hours, usually with the doctors of the patient's choice.

"We have achieved this without an increase in our workload and at very minimal cost."

Nine practices are currently working within the new scheme and another five are due to start training next month.


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See also:

04 Feb 03 | England
28 Jan 03 | Health
03 Oct 02 | Health
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