GPs in the NHS Lanarkshire area will open on Saturdays throughout January to ease pressure on the health service. Surgeries which have agreed to join the initiative will extend the times patients can receive care at the weekends.
The plan has been put in place for patients to receive urgent care more quickly. Patients should check with their GP practice if they are extending hours before trying to make an appointment.
It comes as the NHS comes under unprecedented pressure, with a record number of people waiting more than 12 hours to be seen in A&E departments.
There are also reports of people facing lengthy waits to get through to helpline NHS 24 and difficulties getting a GP appointment.
Health Secretary Humza Yousaf has also warned the NHS faces “an extremely challenging” next two weeks as a result of Covid and flu cases.
Dr Mark Russell, NHS Lanarkshire’s medical director, said: “These extended GP opening hours will help ensure that patients in need of urgent care are able to access their own GP quickly during January.
“Those GPs who have agreed to extend their opening hours will be able to support colleagues during this extremely challenging period for which we are extremely grateful.
“This will help ensure that people receive the right care in the right place as quickly as possible, which will help us manage pressure across the whole healthcare system at this current time.”
Dr Russell also thanked people in Lanarkshire for their continued understanding.
The current advice for those whose GP is not open, is to check their symptoms on NHS Inform or call NHS 24 on 111 to access out-of-hours care.
Pharmacies are also able to provide a range of expert advice and information.
Christine Gilmour, the health board’s director of pharmacy said: “Dropping into your local pharmacy means you can get help and advice on a range of health conditions.
“Help with medicines is also available and with the NHS Pharmacy First scheme you may be eligible to receive over-the-counter medicines free of charge when you need them. Pharmacies also dispense prescriptions and most supply emergency contraception.”
The developments come just a few weeks after NHS Grampian warned patients awaiting treatment that they may be offered appointments anywhere in Scotland in a bid to tackle growing waiting lists.