Regional health bosses launch campaign to boost take-up of out-of-hours appointments

Health bosses have unveiled a campaign to increase the number of people seeking medical advice in the evenings and at weekends, by promoting the fact that doctors can be seen outside normal office hours.

One of the posters for the '8 til L8' campaign
One of the posters for the '8 til L8' campaign

Simplicity is the key to the ‘8 til L8’ campaign launched by NHS Blackpool and NHS Fylde and Wyre Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs).

It has been prompted by the low use of the out of hours service, with an average of 65 per cent of available appointments being used.

The core message is that people can see their GP in the evenings or at weekends.

The eye-catching campaign, launched last week, has been developed in-house, with a budget of £10,000.


The funds have come from NHS England, which has provided CCGs with additional funding to increase the use of the evening and weekend appointments where uptake has been low.

Common reasons for going to the doctor, such as getting blood pressure and asthma checks, or blood tests, feature on the brightly coloured posters produced for the campaign.

Campaign images are being promoted on social media, as well as at bus stops and on buses.


In addition, GP practice staff have been provided with badges that say: ‘Ask me about evening and weekend appointments.’

Health chiefs hope the new campaign will result in increased uptake of the appointments.

Rationale

Amanda Bate, head of comms and engagement for the Fylde Coast CCGs, said: “We were asked for our help in improving the uptake of evening and weekend appointments across the Fylde Coast by our commissioning team and got to work thinking how this could be done.”

She said: “One example of a campaign that had been run by the Islington GP Federation in London was the ‘8 til 8’ campaign, which used similarly eye-catching and contrasting colours and a simple message – GP services are available for 12 hours every day and at weekends.”

Bate added: “In addition to the standard message that appointments can be made in the evenings and at weekends, we also wanted to highlight the range of services these appointments can be used for, and for this we used alternative bright and contrasting colours, which are now plastered all over GP practices across the Fylde Coast.

“We hope this will significantly increase the awareness of these additional GP services for people living in Blackpool, Fylde and Wyre and, ultimately, drastically increase use of the services on offer in the area.”

Dr Neil Hartley-Smith, a Blackpool GP and clinical director for the CCGs, said: “We have been offering these services for some time now, but unfortunately the uptake hasn’t been great. We know this is partly down to a lack of awareness among the local population so we have tried to do something different.”

He added: “The new campaign artwork is more eye-catching and stands out from the typical NHS service advertisements.”




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