ALL GP surgeries in Worcestershire have been moved onto the same IT system as part of the national drive to seven-day working across the NHS.

The county’s three Clinical Commissioning Groups have been working to ensure patients are able to access services, advice and help whenever they need it – not just during normal GP opening hours.

SW Healthcare – a federation of all 31 GP practices in the south of the county – was earlier this year awarded a £2.8 million grant by the Prime Minister’s Challenge Fund, some of which is being used to develop a virtual hub which patients will be able to use to speak to doctors without the need to go to A&E or wait for an appointment.

Speaking at a meeting of Worcestershire County Council’s Health Overview and Scrutiny Committee on Wednesday, July 15 chief clinical officer with South Worcestershire CCG Simon Trickett said in order for initiatives such as this to be successful patient’s records needed to be available to any healthcare workers who needed to access them, and this required them all to be on the same computer system.

“This opens up lots of possibilities for closer working,” he said. “The virtual hub is the first manifestation of sharing information.

“If we can apply it to the virtual hub and it works we can also work in A&E and the Minor Injury Units.

“Getting the IT to work properly across the NHS is a bit of a holy grail.

“This really does make a real difference.”

Earlier this year NHS South Worcestershire Clinical Commissioning Group was one of the first in the country to be handed full responsibility for planning and arranging GP services. The other two CCGs in the county – Wyre Forest and Redditch and Bromsgrove – were also given some role in commissioning GP services in their areas, with a view to taking over full responsibility in the near future.