Patient demand rise by 130% during festive period
A unique service which helps patients registered with Barnsley-based GP practices to access medical advice outside standard surgery opening hours has helped a record number of people during the busy festive period.
Launched in November 2015, i-HEART Barnsley saw the number of patient enquiries increase by 130% between 23rd December and 2nd January, compared with the same period last year. The service was open every day throughout the Christmas holidays including Christmas Day, Boxing Day and New Year’s Day.
The free to access service helps patients to receive same-day appointments with doctors and nurses, as well as telephone advice. During busy times, patients can arrange a call back via i-HEART’s website.
In total, nearly 400 patients benefitted from the service over the Christmas period: an increase of over 130% during the same period last year. Following the success achieved, Barnsley Healthcare Federation which is responsible for operating i-HEART is hoping to extend the free NHS service further during 2017.
Linda Cottrell, i-HEART, Services Manager said:
“We’ve received lots of positive feedback from patients about the service and the significant increase in appointment bookings helps to illustrate that patients are becoming increasingly aware of the alternatives available in Barnsley when it comes to receiving medical advice.
“I’m really pleased that we’ve helped so many people during the Christmas period. Research previously conducted by i-HEART has shown that one of the main reasons why so many people visit accident and emergency with non-life-threatening conditions is because they are unsure where to turn for medical advice when their GP surgery is closed.
“During the winter months, there is a huge amount of pressure not only on standard GP services, but also the town’s accident and emergency department which many turn to when unable to book an appointment with their own doctor. We’re asking people to think twice before heading to A&E when it comes to non-emergency conditions.
“i-HEART was launched to create additional appointments during evenings and weekends in a bid to create greater choice. We are now setting our sights on developing the service further, based upon the feedback we’ve received from patients.”
Jim Logan, Chief Executive, Barnsley Healthcare Federation said:
“The number of people which i-HEART has supported this Christmas has played a vital role in helping to reduce pressure on all healthcare services. We are keen not to rest on our laurels and we are continuing to invest and further develop the service, helping to provide patients in Barnsley with greater choice and access to medical advice.
“We are hoping to trial a new form of video consultation within the next few months and are also looking at opening additional sites within the borough to help increase the number of appointments available to patients.
i-HEART is open between 9am – 10pm during weekdays and between 9am – 1pm at weekends. The service provides telephone-based consultations as well as evening and weekend appointments with GPs and nurses. The service is the first of its kind to be pioneered anywhere in Yorkshire.
Appointments can be booked by calling 01226 242419 or alternatively a call back can be arranged via the i-HEART website: www.iheartbarnsley.org.uk.