GPs in Greater Manchester have begun a six-month trial offering patients access to GPs on evenings and at weekends.

The initiative, aimed at cutting unnecessary visits to overstretched A&E departments in Manchester’s 17 hospitals, has been made possible by NHS grants awarded to six teams, with an overall value of £2m. If the trials are successful, they could be rolled out across Greater Manchester. Over the last year, A&E visits in the Greater Manchester area accounted for 30% of all patient visits, costing the"NHS"£30m. To ease the burden, the trial GPs will be offering patients access from 8am to 8pm seven days a week.

Dr Kiran Patel, one of the doctors leading the initiative, said: “This is about extending GP hours to give better access for patients and cut down on waiting times. Many people struggle to get appointments outside their working hours and this will allow that to happen while taking pressure off A&E.” The grant will also help improve computer access to patient records – currently not possible at out-of-hours centres.