Reading GP surgeries will start offering extended hours from 1 October 2018, to meet a government pledge to give the public access bookable GP appointments from 8am-8pm.
However, the appointments might not be at your own GP surgery – you might instead be offered one at a neighbouring surgery, or at the Westcall consulting rooms based at Royal Berkshire Hospital.
The current shortage of GPs means most Reading practices are unable to open seven days a week, 8am-8pm. Instead, five new ‘clusters’ have been set up, involving between three and eight GP surgeries clubbing together to share a joint appointment booking system that their own receptionists can access, so they can offer appointments to each other’s patients where needed, during extra hours on most weekdays. (The exception to this is University Health Centre, which is covering all appointments on its own). At weekends, most of the extra appointment times will be delivered by Westcall (the service staffed by GPs which also covers urgent appointments outside of core hours).
GP surgeries should have updated information on their websites by 1 October. People should continue to contact their surgery in the usual way to make appointments.
If you’re unsure whether you need a GP appointment you can call the NHS helpline 111 first for advice. The Reading Walk-In Centre in Broad Street Mall can also see people who feel they need to be seen before their usual GP practice is able to see them.
*Let us know whether this extended hours system is working for you, by phoning or emailing us.