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Extended hours funding for Welsh GPs

By Gareth Iacobucci

GPs in Wales have are set to receive £16m funding to offer extended opening hours after agreeing a new deal with ministers.

The agreement between Welsh Assembly ministers and GP leaders will allow Local Health Boards (LHBs) to commission a new range of services from GPs.

LHBs have been asked to work with GP practices to ensure that daytime opening times meet the ‘reasonable needs of patients' in every practice in Wales.

But practices have been granted flexibility to offer a new ‘menu' of enhanced services, which will be commissioned according to local need.

The menu includes care of patients with diabetes, learning disabilities and mental health problems, while future services to be developed could include alcohol, heart failure and specialised sexual health services.

Practices with sufficient capacity will be able to apply for funding to extend their opening hours into the evening and early mornings and at weekends.

The package also includes a £4.8m uplift for LHBs to support increased costs from factors like population growth and increased prices of drugs.

Health Minister Edwina Hart said: ‘I am delighted that the Assembly Government and GPC Wales have been able to reach this agreement. Working with GP leaders on this issue was a key factor in delivering this agreement.

‘This deal will mean improved access to essential GP services and provision of a wider range of enhanced services.

‘In particular, LHBs will be able to negotiate with practices so that more surgeries offer more convenient opening hours for all, especially for patients that traditionally find it difficult to attend during normal hours.'

Dr David Bailey, Chairman of GPC Wales, said: ‘This is a good deal for GPs and patients.The new menu of services means GPs will be able to use their expertise to provide more specialist care for those patients that require it.

‘GPC Wales also supports Welsh practices moving as soon as possible to a position where patient access is possible throughout the core hours.'

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