A PILOT scheme offering a full day Saturday surgery to 29,000 NHS patients has been launched by a consortium of health centres in Poole.

Four GP practices – at Madeira Road, Herbert Avenue, Rosemary and Heatherview – have formed a company called Healthstone Medical to provide the extra session. A fifth practice is considering joining them.

The Saturday service is based at the Heatherview Medical Centre near Sainsbury’s in Alder Hills and is being staffed by a rota including GP partners and locums.

One of the GPs involved, Dr John Prosser, of Heatherview, explained that the government had told family doctors they had to provide an extra half-an- hour of pre-booked appointments for every 1,000 patients.

He said: “We have good working relationships between all the practices and all the doctors know each other. We got together and said ‘instead of all doing extra hours here and there, why not put all our effort into one location then give our patients a full day’s opening?’ “We all understand that we’ve got to work together to make the health service better. There’s a need for extended opening and it’s much more efficient to run from one hub. We have four doctors and two nurses working all day.”

Healthstone director and Madeira Medical manager Jeremy Ramsden said: “The Saturday surgery is being run along the same lines as a weekday surgery, as we are offering both routine and emergency GP appointments, nursing appointments and a telephone triage service.

“Patients can make an appointment for a Saturday via their own surgery during the week. The doctors will also be offering home visits to those patients who are too ill to attend.”