Health bosses say they will press ahead with plans for patients to access urgent GP services through same-day hubs rather than their own family doctor.

NHS North West London Integrated Care Board (ICB) has confirmed that it will effectively mandate the use of “same-day access” hubs from April 1.

This will mean patients across Westminster, Brent and Harrow will have to be triaged at one of these hubs if they want a same-day appointment for less complex health problems.

Some of these hubs are likely to be “physically co-located”, while others will only provide virtual services.

Complex long-term care issues will continue to be dealt with by a patient’s family doctor.

Doctors were told about the plans in mid-February, but the ICB did not confirm them publicly until later last month.

It comes despite opposition from patients, who claim they have not been consulted on the plans.

One petition against the proposals - ‘Doctors not call centres for North West London’ - , was started last week (February 29) and has since amassed more than 3,000 signatures.

Health bosses claim the aim of the change is to make access to GP appointments “easier”, although they admitted some people may have to travel further than their own practice upon referral.

Dr Genevieve Small, a Harrow GP and primary care medical director for NHS North West London, said clinical decisions and referrals "will continue to be made by clinical staff”.

It comes after concerns were raised by Brent Patient Voice chair Robin Sharp that a care co-ordinator, rather than a doctor, would initially assess patient’s needs.

The ICB has promised that same day hubs will all include senior GPs, as well as care-coordinators in “supporting roles”.

But Dr Nam Hunger-Nguyen, from Church End Medical Centre in Mayo Road, has raised concerns that the plans will only further “fragment” patients’ GP experience.

He said: “Myself, many of my close colleagues and wider GP leaders are extremely concerned about further widening health inequality and reducing continuity of care.”

The ICB has said that hubs will all serve more than one GP practice, with patients then referred to the service “best suited to their needs”.

This includes their own GP surgery, a different practice, a community pharmacist or a physiotherapist.

Dr Small added: “Patients consistently tell us that getting a GP appointment can be difficult.

“We have developed a plan that will increase same day access to GPs, community pharmacists and other primary care professionals for those patients who need it.

“This approach will be introduced gradually across North West London from April 2024.

“It will ensure that GPs have more time to proactively care for their patients who most need their expertise, including those with long-term conditions.”