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Gold, incentives and meh

Only three areas commit to funding seven-day GP services

Exclusive Sixteen of the 19 CCG areas taking part in the first wave of the Prime Minister’s seven-day GP access pilots have not committed to fund seven-day appointments beyond April 2016.

Just two CCGs areas across the 20 first-wave pilots have committed fully to continue funding their scheme past next March, a Pulse investigation has revealed.

Another former pilot - in east London - has agreed to continue seven-day routine GP access, but only for patients with five or more long-term conditions.

And another in Bristol and south Gloucestershire has had to reapply for central Government funding.

Across the other 15 areas, two CCGs have cancelled their schemes altogether. The remainder (13) said they are still evaluating findings of the pilot schemes run over the past year or are awaiting more clarity from Number 10 regarding the future funding of seven-day access, while two have said they have no current plans for long-term funding of seven-day routine GP appointments at all.

This strikes a blow to the Government, which had always claimed that the schemes would become self-sufficient from April 2016, once savings were realised from a reduction in A&E attendances.

It comes as the Treasury has said that the £750m committed to general practice would go towards seven-day access, after Prime Minister David Cameron had originally said the budget would be £400m.

The official evaluation into the PM’s Challenge Fund pilots found that there was a 15% reduction in the number of patients attending A&E with minor ailments across the pilot areas, compared with the national average of 7%.

However, it also found that these savings amounted to £3.2m across the wave one schemes - way below the £50m invested in the Challenge Fund, the majority of which went on providing seven-day services.

The evaluation also recommended Sunday opening is ditched due to a lack of demand, with the potential of commissioning extended evening opening or Saturday morning clinics.

seven day access map 580px wide v2

The Pulse investigation revealed that NHS Hambleton, Richmondshire and Whitby CCG, and a scheme in the South West encompassing Devon, Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly have dropped Sunday access altogether and will not be funding it from April 2016.

The majority said they had not yet decided whether to continue funding it.

NHS Southwark CCG, which is one of the three that has committed to funding the services from April 2016, has commissioned 8am-8pm routine appointments on a hub basis for three years at a cost of £2m annually.

Even enthusiastic areas, such as Bury – which has been held up by the Department of Health as evidence of the scheme’s success – are unclear about whether they will pursue the scheme with a spokesperson telling Pulse the future funding of seven-day appointments was ‘uncertain’.

Dr Peter Thomas, organisational medical director for Bury GP Federation, said: ’Seven-day opening has worked very well for us in Bury. That said, discussions with commissioners are ongoing regarding the future model of extended access.’

 *This article was updated at 12:10pm, 25 November 2015, to state on the map that Southwark CCG will provide over 80,000 extra appointments a year, and not 800,000, as it previously said. 

Readers' comments (16)

  • Dear Dr Ivan Bennett,
    would you be kind enough tell us humble GP partners
    1. what hours do you work?
    2. do you get annual/sick/study leave from your employer?
    3. who pays your subscription for Defense organisation
    4. £/hour you earn
    How many salaried GPs will be required to fill all shift for a week and the cost?
    Lastly why stop at 7 days opening? why not 24 hours GP surgeries?

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  • Can they just give him an OBE or something and then maybe he won't feel the need to post carefully worded press releases to his peers

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  • We run 2 PMCF sites in South Kent.

    The NHSE IT team refuse even to consider acess through our single smart card sign-in software to the MIG/ clincial records. Everyone here agree effective integrated care is all about access to the GP record.

    No Access = No Benefit.

    This seems to be an NHSE 'left hand not knowing what the right hand is doing' issue.

    And using a GP and receptionist for 12 hours on a sunday to see a very few patients is madness. Likewise 0800-1000h on other days. '7/7, 12 hours' is a Westminster sound-bite, not the real world.

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  • I think some extended opening makes sense. Dr Benett's post seemed somewhat more measured and, frankly, polite compared to some of the anonymous replies. The way it is being done currently can slice up current OOH providers causing chaos. But if done regularly the public could get used to this over time and it would get used. It's just too piecemeal currently and it is not coordinated with current OOH. I don't know what the full answer is, but I'm not sure blanket negativity helps.

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  • Ivan - all of my patients can make a weekday appointment. They just need to take time off work like everyone else in Europe, the Antipodes, North and South Americas etc etc. Just like I and they also have to do to see a Solicitor, Dentist etc etc.

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  • I would like to know what vested interests Ivan has in this 7 day working - how many sessions do you do clinically, and do you actually have any clue as to what grassroots GPs think?

    Stop with all of these statements and anything you say in public, please tell people that it is YOUR view only, and is not shared by the majority of the GP workforce. You dont represent me.

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