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At the heart of general practice since 1960

Government reveals extended hours plans for APMS drive

By Gareth Iacobucci

The Government has told health chiefs that the 100 new practices it plans for under-doctored areas must offer a minimum of five hours extended opening a week.

The APMS practices, many of which are earmarked for the private sector, will also become training centres for their PCTs, it has said.

But there is panic in PCTs at the timeframe which has been set for the rollout.

The Department of Health this week gave SHAs the end of this month to sign off plans for the 38 PCTs with the worst provision of GPs in England. An identical timeframe has been set for all PCTs to come up with plans to procure GP-led health centres, also under APMS.

The pressure came after NHS chief executive David Nicholson has called on SHA chiefs for an urgent update on the progress of its APMS plans.

One PCT chief, who did not want to be named, told Pulse that the Government's plans presented ‘an absolutely impossible timescale'. Bidders for the contracts for both the GP practices and the health centres will be required to be selected by the end of August, and contracts awarded and signed by the end of the year.

William Jones, assistant director of commissioning of Derbyshire County PCT, said the pressure had meant ‘I have to draw what is a fairly tight primary care commissioning team away from their day to day activities'.

Meanwhile Sir Richard Branson's Virgin brand has told GPs they would have to undergo regular customer service training and forego all management responsibilities for all non-clinical staff, if they want to become a part of its future vision of primary care.

The company has launched a recruitment process in 26 towns across the country.

Dr Simon Richards, GP in Thornley, Peterborough who attended one event, said: ‘In our practice it would mean about 14 people would be out of a job and kicked off the NHS pension scheme. It wouldn't work for us, and I suspect it wouldn't work for a lot of practices.'

A Virgin spokesperson said that staff training would provide ‘a quality of service and experience consistent with what people expect from the Virgin brand'.

She added that transferring non-clinical staff would be protected under TUPE arrangements.

David Nicholson: NHS chief executive putting pressure on PCTS to deliver APMS plans David Nicholson: NHS chief executive putting pressure on PCTS to deliver APMS plans

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