THE Isle of Wight has been overlooked in a multi-million pound government scheme to improve access to GP services.
More than seven million patients will benefit from the government’s £50 million GP Access Fund, aimed at improving out of hours services.
The lion’s share has been awarded to surgeries that have pledged to extend their opening hours from 8am to 8pm, seven days a week.
A £2 million bid by Island GPs, including proposals to improve access to services but not to extend opening hours, was turned down by Department of Health officials — a decision one doctor said was short sighted.
Dr Michelle Legg, a doctor at Tower House Surgery, Ryde, said they had requested funding for several schemes, such as sharing patient records between surgeries to improve out-of-hours care, increasing home visits and installing wi-fi at surgeries so patients could talk to their doctor on Skype.
"We were asked to submit proposals for improving access to services but all the money has gone to essentially paying GPs to work longer hours.
"It’s not sustainable because the funding will only last for a year. It’s a shame it hasn’t gone to supporting long-term solutions," she said.
"We didn’t propose extending our opening hours because we already have a very good out-of-hours service on the Island — particularly with the Beacon Health Centre and the NHS 111 number — and I’m not sure how many GPs could take on the extra work.
"Like most of my colleagues, I work 50 hours a week. If I were to work at weekends, I would have to reduce my hours during the week.
"We need to find sustainable solutions because the country is facing a shortage of GPs."