EA shifts provide a shared overflow capacity for same day care to improve access to GP services, and relieve pressure on busy A&E departments. In these Hubs, patients registered with local practices are offered 15 minute appointments with a GP who has access to their full medical record. Services offered by hubs are usually slightly more restricted than their own practice (e.g. no routine referrals (only 2ww), repeat prescriptions or fit notes).
The patient is usually seen in one or two central locations, either a surgery or walk in centre, and appointments booked by the home practices (patients cannot book into them directly).
Patients seem to really value the same day access and the extra time they get. However, if they are booked in error by receptionists who do not understand the limitations of the service, inappropriate presentations can slip through, and a difficult consultation can ensue. Patients can also seem puzzled to be seeing a doctor they recognise from their own practice, having been told that their own practice doesn’t have appointments that day.