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Department of Health 'blocks' local extended opening agreements

By Steve Nowottny

The Department of Health is stepping in to prevent GPs from offering extended hours under flexible local agreements, senior GPs warned this week.

Dr Nigel Watson, chief executive of Wessex LMCs, has written to health minister Ben Bradshaw to protest after some PCTs were reportedly ordered not to offer LESs with flexibilities such as concurrent working or monthly payments.

GPs in the West Midlands have also warned practices are far less likely to offer extended hours without the local flexibilities.

Dr Grant Ingrams, secretary of GPC West Midlands, said: ‘This is another example where a centrally dictated one size fits all solution is being forced on the NHS.'

A Department of Health spokesman refused to comment on whether the Department of Health had intervened in local agreements, but said: 'The Government is committed to working with GPs to improve access to services and to support wider improvements in the quality of GP services.

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