Fleetwood residents will see improved access to GP services with the help of a £500,000 investment by the Prime Minister’s Challenge Fund.

The Improving Access to Healthcare in Fleetwood project, which was among the winning bids highlighted in today’s Prime Minister’s Challenge Fund announcement, aims to improve GPs’ use of technology and increase flexibility around appointments.

Dr Mark Spencer, a Fleetwood GP who helped develop the bid for Fleetwood, said: “We are delighted to be able to offer better access to GP services locally. We know that often patients can find it hard to access health services for urgent and routine needs, especially at evenings and weekends.”

“All four Fleetwood GP practices are working together to respond to what local people have told us they need – which is better and more flexible access to primary care.”

The £500,000 scheme will see routine, pre-bookable GP appointments available at weekends as well as a 24 hour telephone service to book GP appointments, order prescriptions and get test results.

Peter Tinson, NHS Fylde and Wyre Clinical Commissioning Group chief operating officer, said: “This is great news for patients in Fleetwood and an opportunity for Fleetwood GPs to lead the way in using an integrated approach to help patients to get the care they need, as well as helping to ease the burden on our A&E services.”

The changes are hoped to reduce the growing pressure on A&E services, and free up GP practices to spend more time on health promotion, prevention of illness and management of patients with long-term conditions.

The Prime Minister’s Challenge Fund was announced in October 2013, offering £50 million to help improve access to general practice and stimulate innovative ways of providing primary care services. Twenty pilot schemes were selected in April 2014, with the second wave of projects announced today.

The Fund, which offers £100m in 2015-16, is supporting a wide variety of innovative ideas including extended opening hours, more ways for patients to access services and new services to better support patients with complex needs.