Hundreds of patients could soon be able to see their doctors at weekends in a bid to relieve pressure on A&E.

Twenty out of the 43 surgeries in Colchester and Tendring have said they are interested in taking part in a seven week pilot scheme to open for longer hours.

The scheme, which runs until the end of March, began on Saturday and some practices have already seen extra patients.

Doctor Andrew Lennard-Jones, who is a partner at Creffield Medical Centre in Cavalry Road, Colchester, said two doctors had already been holding surgeries on a Saturday morning but the pilot scheme allowed them to fund an extra doctor for the morning, meaning they can see about 90 patients.

He said: “We have found it very good and patients definitely appreciate it, we have got a lot of patients who ring up and say they can’t get in and then we say do you want a Saturday appointment.

“I think this might be a tester for practices starting weekend working.”

He added that it is not only 9 to 5 workers who have benefitted but also elderley people who need help getting to the practice.

The North East Essex Clinical Commissiong Group is running the scheme, which is funded from the national Winter Pressures budget, up to a maximum of about £100,000.

Funding for each practice will depend on how many patients are seen.