HUNDREDS of hours of extra evening and weekend doctors' appointments will be on offer across Wiltshire for patients in a bid to meet increasing demands this winter.

A total of 235 hours a week of extra appointments will be on offer across the county as nights draw in and winter months cause increases in health problems and illness.

Extra appointments will be available at a range of surgeries between 6.30pm and 8pm on weekdays and at weekends and bank holidays.

Patients from all doctors' surgeries can book in routine appointments in advance for the evening slots but patients might have to travel to see a different doctor to their usual one.

Doctors can also be reached by booking in a telephone appointment.

The programme has been set up to keep people out of hospital during the colder months, when A and E services are put under extra pressure.

The initiative is taking place across Bath and North East Somerset, Swindon and Wiltshire.

Dr Richard Sandford-Hill, chairman of Wiltshire Clinical Commissioning Group, said: “This is a Wiltshire-wide initiative, and means that patients who would like an evening appointment, or who need to be seen by a GP at the weekend, can book appointments at a practice in their local area.

“The appointment offered may not be at your usual practice, but you will not have to travel very far for your appointment. It’s only through groups of GP practices collaborating together that we’ve been able to ensure all Wiltshire patients have this option.”

Dr Lindsay Kinlin, who has led the Wiltshire initiative, said: “Whatever your local area of Wiltshire, appointments will be offered as usual during the week, but you can be seen at any participating surgery during the evening or weekend.

“People can book a weekend or evening appointment by contacting their usual surgery during normal opening times. Your practice will explain the process, and ensure the booking is appropriate for your need.

“We will also request your consent to allow us to share your medical records with the practice where your appointment is due to be.”

Patients can pre-book appointments through their own doctors' surgery or given to people advised to see a GP by the 111 service. The service will not be open for walk-in appointments. Find out more about the service by contacting your local surgery’s website.