Some GP surgeries are opening late on weekends to ease pressure on the NHS

By Nino Williams

GP surgeries across Swansea Bay are extending their opening hours to help tackle the pressures currently experienced on NHS services.

Swansea Bay University Health Board has announced some of its surgeries will be open longer than normal as the pressures of coronavirus continue to pose extra challenges for health services.

For the rest of January, selected GP surgeries will open longer for patients requesting advice, consultations or other general medical services.

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The services are only for those registered with the respective practices.

Surgeries in the Swansea Bay region which are extending their hours include Uplands, Skewen, SA1, Ty'r Felin, Dyfed Road, and Estuary.

(Swansea Bay University Health Board)

Wales Online asked the other seven health boards in Wales if they were considering extending GP opening hours. Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board has confirmed a 'small number' of GP surgeries in north Wales are operating extended opening hours, while a spokesman for Aneurin Bevan University Health Board said: “We can confirm that nine GP practices in our Health Board area are opening for additional hours in order to help ease the pressures on our wider NHS system.”

A spokesperson for Cardiff and Vale University Health Board said 'an offer' had been made for practices to open extended hours, and added: “There have been pressures on the health and care system for some time and the prevalence of Covid-19 in our communities is placing additional pressure on services.

"The Health Board has been supporting GP practices across Cardiff and the Vale of Glamorgan to manage pressures at this difficult time. There was also an offer for practices to open outside of core hours to provide additional access for patients and to support the urgent primary care service (Out of Hours and CAV 24/7) which has been receiving very high numbers of calls.

“We kindly ask patients to help where possible to ease pressures on services during this time by making use of the NHS 111 online symptom checker and seeking advice from community pharmacists for most minor illnesses, this can Help Us Help You this winter.”

A spokesman for Cwm Taf Morgannwg University Health Board said its GP surgeries were not offering extended hours, but added: “The Health Board is actively supporting GP surgeries across the Cwm Taf Morgannwg area as many are currently impacted by staff absence related to Covid-19 sickness and isolation," he said.

“We are also asking for our patients’ support and for them to think carefully about the services they access.

“Different healthcare services are open and available in communities that may be better placed to help with non-urgent issues. Pharmacists, for example, can give advice and treatment for different common illnesses and ailments, while opticians and dentists are better placed to help with eye and dental problems respectively.

“Don’t hesitate to contact your GP if you have an urgent healthcare problem – but if you can access support elsewhere, please do. It will help make sure the most pressing cases are prioritised.

“If you have a healthcare problem and are unsure where to turn, the NHS 111 Wales phone line and online symptom checker are quick and easy ways to access advice and information – phone 111 or visit 111.wales.nhs.uk.”

Hywel Dda University Health Board also say they have no plans to extend hours.

A spokesman added: "We are mindful of the pressures that practices are already under and whilst all services are still available, patients may be asked to access them in a different way such as via online or telephone services".

Powys Teaching Health Board has yet to respond.

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