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GPs go forth

GP practices to be classified based on evening and weekend opening

GP practices will have to report whether they open outside core hours from October, and will be sorted into a category based on their answer.

The new contractual requirement, which formed part of the 2016/17 GP contract, will see GP practices having to submit responses to an access survey every six months, the first of which has to be submitted next month.

This will detail whether patients have the option of ‘pre-bookable appointments’ on Saturdays, Sundays, early mornings and evenings, according to new guidance outlined by NHS England.

The survey also contains a set of questions about extended hours appointments ‘across the group of practices of which the practice is a member,’ which could mean a federation or network of local practices.

According to the guidance, this is ‘aimed at giving a view of all approaches the practice has taken to providing their patients with enhanced access to pre-bookable appointments’. 

GP practices will then be placed into an ‘extended access category’ based on the answers provided, for example ‘full extended access’.

Published data will show both individual practice’s responses to each question, as well as CCG-level data detailing how many practices in the CCG are in each extended access category.

Dr Richard Vautrey, deputy chair of the GPC, said: ‘This data collection was insisted on by Government and is linked to their commitment around all patients having access to evening and weekend appointments.

'However GPC insisted that there should be no requirement for any GP or practice to offer these appointments or for themselves to work evenings or weekends, which is why practices can record access to other services in their areas if they are available.'

He added: ‘This is about politicians being able to tick a political box when they should really be focusing on the real problem, a GP service that is grossly underfunded and over worked.'

It is a contractual obligation to respond to the survey, with the window for data collection opens from 3 October to 31 October 2016 through the Primary Care Web Tool.

GP practices will have to respond to this every six months, with a timetable in the guidance showing data collection dates until the end of March 2021.

The move follows last week's announcement that every CCG will get £6 per patient to extend GP access from 2019.

The GPC is championing an idea of 'overflow' hubs that can not only take on urgent patients during core hours when GP practices are full but also have the potential to provide extended hours.

The seven-day GP appointment pledge

Seven-day routine general practice is a Conservative Government manifesto pledge, which has been championed fiercely by Number 10.

And health secretary Jeremy Hunt has reaffirmed NHS England's mandate to ensure evening and weekend access to GP appointments, despite the resignation of David Cameron from the Prime Minister post in July.

At the time, Mr Hunt said that he expected NHS England to 'make further progress' on the 'priority' of rolling out the seven-day NHS commitment including 'to improve access to GP services, particularly in evenings and at the weekends'. But GP leaders said the continuation of the policy was 'idiocy'.

NHS England has pledged £500m a year to CCGs to commission seven-day routine GP access by 2020/21 and, as revealed by Pulse, NHS England is providing ongoing funding to all of the Prime Minister’s seven-day access pilots after their funding has run out, despite plans for them to become self-sustaining by cutting the number of A&E attendances.

Read all about the seven-day scheme on Pulse’s dedicated page


Readers' comments (23)

  • How are we going to do this?
    I cant work any harder, and nor can any of my partners.

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  • You don't need to open more.

    We have local practices open all sorts of hours. I direct the punters to register with them if they want extended access.

    We actually share a reception desk with one and it beats me why ppl moan at us ocassionally.

    Still our list is growing rapidly.

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  • Vinci Ho

    Yes, eventually , different types of GP practices. Question is how are they being funded differently ? Winner or loser?

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  • forgot the third category 'closed permanently to the NHS'

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  • ahh the slippery slope tactical approach

    some NHSE deviant has thought this is a good tactic to try and pressure practices to open on weekends through 'peer pressure'

    Of course most practices would only be too happy to lose the type of patients who use such a service!!

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  • Easy. Fight this with total unity.

    Everyone opt out and end this bollocks before it begins. After all its a meaningless league table if we are all on no points.

    Hunt will only win if we let him by climbing over each other, trying to look good at our colleagues expense. Hoist him on his own petard by just saying No.

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  • No need to fight this

    There aren't enough GP's to make this work!

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  • work evening and weekends but close during the day Monday to fri then?

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  • The idea is that competition will help drive people to open at weekends.

    The problem is that the incentive to attract patients is not there. We are turning away about 10 a week that are just outside our practice area but want to join us. I think many practices are in the same boat.

    If practices were paid £200 a patient - then of course we would be fighting to attract them - esp after that drives up the number of GPs - but that is not going to happen any time soon.

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  • Nothing wrong with weekend opening, depending on how implemented.
    Hubs , with some routine services- midwifery, smears and etc, possibly even routine GP appointments, district nurse drop ins etc. May be an option, and only Between certain hours(9-5)
    GP s would possibly only have to do a one in twenty clinics.
    Not sure what can be done about home visits. (? ANP s, PA s)
    This could be made to work in both urban and rural areas, if transportation can be addressed.
    Computerisation and record sharing is also an issue- everyone should be on the same system.

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