PATIENTS could have to wait less time for GP appointments under a new five-year action plan being considered by NHS managers.

Basildon and Brentwood Clinical Commissioning Group, which funds all locally-based health services, is working on a plan to improve care for its 264,630 patients in Basildon, Billericay, Wickford and Brentwood.

Priorities for the next five years have yet to be finalised, but could include:

- Increasing capacity at GP surgeries from an average of less than 65 a week to 72
- More nurse appointments
- Recruiting more doctors
- Reducing the impact on A&E by 15 per cent, byincreasing and improving local services
- Making more services available 7 days a week
- Cutting waiting times for appointments and referrals
- Improving screening for dementia, cancer, mental health and hypertension

The group’s governing body met last week to discuss the plan, which is expected to be agreed in June.

Tom Abell, the group’s chief officer, said: “We know how vitally important NHS services are to people. It can and does deliver excellent healthcare upon which many people rely.

“However, we also know there are areas in which services for local people can be improved.

“For example, it’s sometimes not as easy as it could be to get a GP appointment. Also, services don’t always work together as well as they should to help the most vulnerable patients.

“We are in the process of developing a five-year strategy to tackle some of these issues.”

As well as improving the service to patients, the commissioning group thinks the changes could also relieve stress on Basildon Hospital.

Once the plans have been finalised, the group will talk to NHS England about funding the proposals.

Some of the money could come from savings the group makes by sending fewer people to the hospital’s A&E department.

Mr Abell added: “Our five-year plan will be finalised in June, but before then, we will make sure local people have their chance to find out what our plans are and are very keen to hear local people’s views.”

To find out more about the plans and voice your opinion, visit basildonandbrentwood