Melton patients are being asked for their views on plans to reduce the hours they can access out-of-hours appointments with GPs and nurses.
NHS East Leicestershire and Rutland Clinical Commissioning Group (ELR CCG) says urgent care services at Melton Mowbray Hospital are not being used to full capacity.
So it has proposed starting weekend evening appointments, which run until 9pm, at 6.30pm instead of 5pm.
And services on weekends and bank holidays would continue to start from 9am but would finish two hours earlier at 5pm.
The ELR CCG considers the changes would be a better use of NHS resources and would begin, subject to the outcome of a public consultation, when contracts for services come to an end next March.
A spokesperson said: “The changes are being suggested because urgent care centres are not widely used on weekday evenings from 5pm to 6.30pm when GP practices are still open.
“And, in response to feedback from patients, ELR CCG is considering standardising opening hours across most urgent care centres at weekends and on bank holidays from 9am to 5pm so that services are easier to navigate for patients and make best use of NHS resources.
“We want to hear patients’ views on whether standardising opening hours across most of the sites will meet patients’ needs locally.”
Melton Mowbray Hospital is one of three nurse-led urgent care centres in East Leicestershire and Rutland which offers walk-in services and pre-booked appointments by calling NHS 111.
Feedback from patients to ELR CCG has shown that people are confused about what service is available, especially when out-of-hours services overlap with GP practice opening hours.
Patients have also said they are confused about how to access urgent care services, whether they are walk-in, available by appointment only or booked by calling NHS 111.
Figures compiled by the commissioning group show half of weekday evening appointments at Melton’s urgent care centre are not taken up. Beginning the service 90 minutes later is designed to avoid the overlap with GP practice opening hours and reduce confusion over where people should access services.
And 10 per cent of available appointments are not used at Melton at weekends and bank holidays between 5pm to 7pm, prompting the proposal to finish them earlier in the day.
Dr Andy Ker, clinical vice-chair at ELR CCG, said: “We are keen to ensure that our urgent care services continue to meet people’s needs while providing high-quality, cost-effective services.
“We believe the plans we’ve set out will reduce some of the confusion around accessing out-of-hours GP and nurse appointments in East Leicestershire and Rutland.
“They will also reduce inefficiencies around having separate services and will ultimately ensure patients have access to high-quality services which are easy to navigate and make best use of NHS resources.
“We would encourage all patients to share their views on the plans with us so we can better understand their needs and how any changes might impact them.”
Patients will be able to walk-in to access healthcare, and appointments will be offered to those calling NHS 111 if their symptoms require it.
And they would also be able to pre-book weekday evening, weekend and bank holiday appointments via their GP practice from September.
Go online at surveymonkey.com/r/ELRurgentcare18 to make a comment on the public consultation until July 24.