Oddly Enough

GP surgery opens in a supermarket

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MANCHESTER (Reuters) - Patients who cannot make it to a GP surgery during the day will be able to visit an out-of-hours doctor in Sainsbury’s under a new pilot project.

The supermarket giant opened a surgery at one of its Manchester stores on Monday, allowing local residents to combine a shopping trip with a late doctor’s appointment.

A local GP came to the company with a proposal to do evening consultations at the supermarket two days a week for a six-month trial period. Sainsbury’s provides the consulting room.

Patients at several local practices that have signed up to the scheme will be able to book appointments over the Internet.

“Particularly in the evening, it’s more convenient,” said a Sainsbury’s spokeswoman. “There’s parking, it is well lit particularly in winter and we have a pharmacy on site.”

Both the firm and health officials would look closely at the pilot before any expansion, she said.

Any nationwide roll-out of the scheme would be complicated by the fact that the supermarket would have to negotiate with each of the dozens of separate National Health Service primary care trusts which are responsible for GP services.

The inability to see a GP out of hours is a long-standing problem in many areas. Health Secretary Alan Johnson has appealed to them to open their surgeries an extra three hours a week, either at weekends or in the evening.

Writing by Peter Apps; Editing by Steve Addison