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GPs to open longer and work in A&E to bail out NHS over Christmas

Exclusive A GP federation has secured a £200,000 contract to staff the local A&E department over the holidays and through January.

NHS Kingston CCG is spending a quarter of a million pounds on enhanced general practice this winter, including a GP federation handed a £200,000 contract to staff the local A&E department with GPs on a rota through to the end of January.

The remainder of the money put forward by the CCG is going towards extended opening at 25 out of 26 local GP practices and special ‘winter pressures’ clinics at Surbiton Health Centre and Churchhill Medical Centre on weekends and bank holidays.

The GPs-in-A&E scheme sees the Kingston GP Chambers, a federation formed of three GP practices, provide 45 hours of GP time at Kingston Hospital over Christmas, reducing to 21 hours a week through January.

Kingston LMC deputy chair Dr Richard Van Mellaerts said the CCG was convinced to invest in extended general practice because GPs were ’able to demonstrate that it helps reduce four-hour wait breaches, which the A&E is judged upon’.

He said: ’It is building in extra capacity to enable A&E to deal with those patients they are trained for and best suited to dealing with, so that the primary care patients get removed from the system at the earliest possible stage.’

A spokesperson for Kingston CCG said: ’As a CCG, we recognise that winter has always been particularly challenging for the NHS. It is often a time of poor health, increased A&E attendances and emergency hospital admissions.

’Therefore we are committed to doing all we can to help alleviate these pressures on the local health economy. Our additional investment in increasing access to primary care in Kingston is part of this overall commitment.’

Elsewhere, CCGs across England are also funding extra opening over the Christmas and winter period.

For example:

  • In Barking, Dagenham, Havering and Redbridge, GP hubs will offer urgent appointments to patients on Christmas Day and other Bank Holidays;
  • Two walk-in centres to provide extra primary care cover, and two practices to operate as primary care hubs on 26, 27 and 28 December in North Tyneside;
  • Appointments on Saturdays and Bank holidays from December through to March in some practices in Stoke-on-Trent;
  • Extended opening hours offered by 31 out of 42 practices in Leeds South and East.

It comes as NHS England has pledged to bolster delivery of primary care this winter by providing £2m to cover GPs’ indemnity costs for out-of-hours-shifts.

Last winter, one in four CCGs funded GP services through the £700m winter pressures fund. This year, CCGs were allocated longer-term ‘system resilience’ funding earlier on in the year to be able to plan ahead better.

However Pulse revealed that extending winter pressure initiatives through April - right up until the general election - meant funds for this winter were already being tapped into.

Readers' comments (23)

  • Stand by for outraged reports in the Daily Mail saying that GPs are being paid this money

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  • What are OOH being paid to do? Why duplicate services!

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  • How on earth are GPs able to do any more work? They're already doing 27 hour days (in the snow with no shoes) and are stretched beyond belief. Oh, wait a minute, that third golf club membership need paying next week...

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  • Dear 4.52 , I understand your frustration because you failed to get into medical school but how about alittle bit of goodwill to all men/women - even gp's !

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  • John Glasspool

    I'd like to know what the hourly rate works out at. And it would be interesting to have some follow-up report.

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  • Come on pharmacist, who plays golf these days? You sound out of touch.
    How about "that new carbon fiber bike needs buying in the sale next week, plus money to extend the garage to fit it with the rest".
    Dear Santa: please offer us £200,000 for some A&E cover.

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  • I hereby tender to help out over Christmas in my own norovirus-ravaged sink hospital. But the fetish-y desire to avoid paying GPs any more money will eventually lead to disaster.

    If the tariff says every A&E turn up costs the CCG £350, then pay me £150 per turnaround patient in the OOH centre next door where we might filter all non-ambulance arrivals and inevitably I'd save a few quid. Of course, that I might make 2k in one shift and that Daily Mail might hear of it precludes this.

    The ship will sink for the sake of a ha'ppeth of tar.

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  • Stop it you nutters. Take the opportunity to have a day off on Christmas Day. GP is hard enough, you deserve a day off. This is how the mission creep starts - one hospital does it, suddenly we've all got to do it, and guess what, next year no money. Happy Christmas to the few sane resilient GPs still out there.

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  • Once patients realise they can see a GP in A&E more will turn up. Don't you have to get prior permission to attend in some scandinvian countries- surely the way to go.

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  • I'm a locum and having at least a month off over Christmas. I'd suggest all follow suit

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