A new Wirral-based private GP service is being launched to offer a fast-track service to beat waiting times for appointments.
The service is piloting at Spire Murrayfield Hospital, near Heswall, and is being headed by a West Kirby-based member of an NHS practice.
Dr Henry Aldwinckle, 38, an experienced GP with an advanced qualification in skin problems, will be running regular Tuesday and Saturday private surgeries at Spire Murrayfield which has over 36,000 patients a year, with the option of extending the service.
He said: “I work in the NHS but I wanted to offer the choice of a different service that can provide longer appointments and appointment times outside the usual GP hours.
“I realise how difficult it can be for busy working people to fit in a visit to their NHS GP on weekdays which can mean many chronic conditions are not being seen soon enough.
“We are offering appointments on Saturdays as well as Tuesdays because we appreciate that many people find it hard to get a routine GP appointment at a time to suit them – urgent cases will of course be seen but non-urgent appointments take longer.
“There would also be a more relaxed approach, with more time allocated for appointments, allowing patients to build a rapport and relationship with their chosen GP.”
Dr Aldwinckle, a GP at a practice in West Kirby, had been looking for a suitable site to open a private GP practice and had approached Spire Murrayfield because it offered an ideal solution.
He added: “Spire Murrayfield is a very highly regarded and well-equipped private hospital and they were also looking to establish a private GP service.
“The advantage here is that they offer a complete package with consultation rooms so that patients can be seen quickly and if necessary referred on to secondary care here at the hospital.
“That would mean that someone needing a scan or blood tests could have it done the same day and the same goes for physiotherapy and other treatments – they could even see a consultant the same day rather than having to wait for a referral at an NHS practice.”
Dr Aldwinckle has a post graduate diploma in practical dermatology from Cardiff University and says that up to 15 per cent of people seen by GPs have dermatological or skin-related problems ranging from eczema to malignant melanomas.
Spire Murrayfield, which employs 260 staff and a team of specialist consultants, has also invested over £1 million in its systems and equipment in the past 12 months with a new day care centre costing £330,000 opened in January and an £850,000 state-of-the-art MRI Scanner, the most advanced of its kind in the area, installed last year.
Julie Watkinson, Acting Director of Spire Murrayfield Hospital, said: “We are constantly looking to invest in and upgrade our services and we had been looking to add our own dedicated private GP practice so we were delighted to team up with Dr Aldwinckle.
“We see it as a natural progression in our aim to offer as many services as we can to our patients under one roof and in the case of the GP practice to offer a flexible and speedy response as well as a high quality service.
“The new day centre is proving very successful and is on target to carry out over 5,000 operations this year with the patients returning home the same day while we have a zero infections rate in our three operating theatres.”
Dr Aldwinckle, who was born and brought up in Gayton, near Heswall, is married with three young daughters and lives in Hoylake.
He went to Birkenhead School and, inspired by his late grandfather, Dr Thomas Green, a Wallasey GP, trained as a doctor at Guy’s and St Thomas’s Hospitals in London before working as a GP registrar in Wallasey and then as a GP in West Kirby where he will continue to practice.
He said: “I very much believe in the NHS which is a national treasure but I see this as a complimentary service which could actually take some of the pressure off the GP services in the area.”
For more information about Spire Murrayfield Hospital, including enquiries about the new private GP service, go to http://www.spirehealthcare.com/wirral/