A health boss has admitted that plans that could have meant patients had to travel further to see a doctor - and not see their GP - have “made a lot of people very anxious”.

Patients and GPs had raised concerns about plans that would have seen same-day access hubs mandated by NHS North West London Integrated Care Board (ICB) on April 1.

The ICB covers the boroughs of Brent, Ealing, Hammersmith and Fulham, Harrow, Hillingdon, Hounslow, and Kensington and Chelsea, as well as the City of Westminster.

The plans suggested patients across these areas would be assessed at one of these hubs if they wanted a same-day appointment for less complex health problems, rather than at their own family doctor.

But following a backlash, the ICB withdrew its plans and said it now hopes to “embed new ways of working” next year instead.

Today (March 14), North West London Joint Health and Overview Scrutiny Committee heard from health bosses about the proposals.

Dr Genevieve Small, a Harrow GP and primary care medical director for NHS North West London, told the committee that the messaging around same-day access hubs had “not been understood”.

She said that under the model, patients who want to be seen by their practice still can, but that they will sometimes have the option to be seen quicker elsewhere.

This could be at a different GP surgery or at a pharmacy or physiotherapy centre.

Dr Small said: “The access that people want and the ability we have to provide that access is not an easy thing to square.

“Some people don’t mind who they see, for them it matters when they see someone.”

She also apologised for making “a lot of people very anxious”, but said the ICB is balancing an “overwhelming need to have access” as demand for appointments continues to grow.

Dr Small added that there would be no cliff edge for GPs to implement hubs from April 1, 2025, and that it would be an “iterative” change.

Opponents to the plan have also questioned whether the hubs would lead to more “gatekeepers”, increasing the time it takes for patients to be seen and worsening continuity of care.

Dr Small said that plans would help “streamline” accessing care, and that the purpose of the changes are to bring together existing skills within a practice to make sure the flow of patients is directed “correctly”.

At the meeting, Kensington and Chelsea councillor Lucinda Knight also raised concerns that the plans appeared to be making a decision for two million people without consultation.

Rory Hegarty, director of communications and engagement at the ICB, said that a formal consultation across the area was not needed, as the hubs are for “local implementation”.

He confirmed that the plans would be “co-designed locally” based on ICB guidelines, but there was no one-size-fits-all approach.

Health bosses said they could not say at the moment whether GP practices would lose funding if they did not sign up to the same-day access model by April next year.