A NATIONAL pilot to extend GP opening hours in Radcliffe has had a successful uptake by patients in the town.

On December 2, five practices in Radcliffe and one in Bury began opening from 8am until 8pm Monday to Friday and 8am until 6pm at weekends after receiving a £260,000 grant.

It was hoped increasing appointment availability at Redbank Group Practice, Spring Lane Surgery, Monarch Medical Centre, RLC Surgery, Radcliffe Medical Centre and Mile Lane Surgery in Bury would crack down on needless visits to accident and emergency (A&E) departments or walk-in centres by people with minor ailments.

Bury CCG Patient Cabinet member Douglas Galvin said early January saw the first time appointments had been fully booked at a weekend.

On Saturdays and Sundays, each practice in Radcliffe now has two GPs available – one tending to appointments and one dealing with emergencies and home visits.

Mr Galvin said: “This is a major step forward for patients in the Radcliffe area and so far it has worked very well.”

Radcliffe Primary Care Centre in Church Street West is currently 40 per cent under used and the scheme means minor operations, blood tests, blood infusions and transfusions, XRays, MRI scans and CT scans will eventually be able to be performed there.