WEEKEND GP appointments have finally become available in Rochford and Castle Point, which is great news for patients.

After a run-in period, all indicators are that the service is working well.

The surgery group involved is not running a full surgery on Saturdays and Sundays.

Instead, it has resorted to a halfway measure, with a single doctor and a single nurse on duty.

This may well prove sufficient. Demand for GP services over weekends normally tends to be less heavy.

The main stipulation is that there should simply be a GP presence, for those who need it. By offering a pared-down service over the weekend, the surgeries can hopefully give the community what it needs, without over-stretching resources.

The service operates by appointment only, but patients have so far experienced no problem in gaining appointments. From this point of view, the system complements rather than replaces the existing St Luke’s walk-in centre in Southend.

Patients will be able to make up their own minds as to which service to use, but the new facility means Castle Point and Rochford residents now have a service on their doorstep. The weekend surgeries appear to be a sensible solution, and early feedback from patients seems very positive.