GP surgeries are to open seven days a week to meet demand in a project that changes the function of healthcare in the county.

Hereford based Taurus Healthcare confirmed this morning (Monday) that it was one of the winners in the £50m national challenge fund to trial new ways of providing primary care services.

The Hereford Times reported the shortlisting of the Taurus bid last month. All 24 GP practices in the county have signed up  to 8am-8pm seven days a week.

Taurus, a practice development consortium, secured £2.7m to be spent over 12 months on a pilot scheme featuring 17 new projects including seven day GP access.

The county bid incorporated input from a wide range of organisations represent the interests both of the community and the wider health service  including Herefordshire Clinical Commissioning Group, Children and Adults Social care leadership from Herefordshire Council, West Midlands Ambulance Service, Wye Valley NHS Trust and 2Gether.

Support was also had from the county’s health and well being board, the voluntary sector, carers organisations and the integrated findings of primary care patient questionnaires.

Taurus Healthcare chairman Dr Nigel Fraser said the success of the bid offered the county an opportunity to showcase extended primary care and a federative model of working, to an extent that set a national example.

The project has three “hubs” providing seven day 8am – 8pm access to GP care and 16 more schemes specifically designed to improve patient services and  ease the pressure on waiting times for non urgent procedures, helping reduce hospital admissions and re-admissions.

Included in the schemes are technology and video link appointments and an adolescent outreach programme delivered in colleges providing services not currently supported by school nursing.

Another project will see social care teams providing assessment and holistic care planning for vulnerable patients.

When the pilot is fully up and running it will provide an additional 90,000 appointments for the county’s 185,000 patients.

Sue Price, director of commissioning for Arden, Herefordshire and Worcestershire NHS area said the “fantastic” pilot was the start of a new era for healthcare in Herefordshire and was up against “very tough” competition nationally.

“The innovation and hard work of those bidders should not be overlooked this is just the start for making changes that will hopefully carry on beyond the pilot year and we are looking forward to working with GPs in Herefordshire to deliver these changes to the benefit of patients,” she said.

Dr Paul Harris, Taurus Healthcare shareholder and GP partner at Belmont practice said "I've lived and worked in Herefordshire for more than 20 years, the General Practice community working together in this way is unique and in the best interests of the patient community they serve -  I am genuinely excited to be part of this innovation."

Taurus Healthcare is the provider arm of the GP Federation. It was founded and owned by the partners of the entire Herefordshire Primary Care community.

The government selected pilot projects by assessing::
• Public and patient engagement – reflecting the local communities’ priorities on accessing primary care.
• Sustainability – ensuring activity continues beyond the pilot phase.
• Scale and ambition – likely to cover populations of at least 40,000 people.
• Leadership and commitment – clear engagement from all the practices involved.
• Link to local strategy – putting general practice at the heart of integrated out-of-hospital care.
• Capacity for rapid implementation – delivering tangible patient benefits during 2014/15 and beyond.
• Plans for monitoring and evaluation – mapped against clear success criteria.