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GP seven-day access pilots will be offered £6 per head to continue

NHS England is in talks around extending its flagship seven-day GP access scheme with funding worth £6 per head of population to existing projects, which will be potentially worth more than £100m overall, Pulse has learned.

It has indicated that the pilot projects, run by CCGs and federations among other groups, will have to provide access during set hours on evenings and weekends in order to access the further funding,

To date, NHS England has spent at least £175m on two waves of pilots since 2014, and Pulse revealed earlier this year that it continued to prop up some which had run out of money.

But this extra funding comes despite the Government claiming that seven-day GP access will be self-funding due to savings made from secondary care.

It follows a series of evaluations that have shown disappointing take-up at weekends, and especially Sundays.

An NHS England briefing document, seen by Pulse, said: 'For 2016/17, NHS England has prioritised funding secured through the spending review to support continuation of current GP Access Fund schemes, to continue to operate evenings and weekends and to support the overall vision set out in the General Practice Forward View.

'In order to facilitate this for 16/17 each GPAF scheme will be offered £6 per head from the GP Access Fund, for that part of the population where the schemes are providing evening and weekend appointments.'

The document also says there are a 'proposed set of standardised core requirements' that need to be met, which Pulse understands includes routine seven-day GP appointments.

NHS England has said that the current two pilot cohorts of its GP Access Fund - previously named the PM's Challenge Fund, having been announced by former prime minister David Cameron - includes 57 areas and covers 18 million patients, or a third of England's population.

It has refused to confirm the £6 per head of population figure, but if this is accurate, it would mean a total of £108m to be spent in 2016/17.

There are also indications that the Government is looking to increase GP access over evenings and weekends

Public board papers from NHS Oxfordshire CCG, which had focused its pilot on urgent rather than routine care, said: 'All existing neighbourhood access hubs will need to adapt to meet the new draft national criteria... These criteria will require more provision in the evenings and at weekends than currently provided.'

It comes as the GP Forward View, published by NHS England in April, pledged £500m extra towards the rollout of seven-day GP access - a Conservative Party election pledge.

Pilot areas responding to a Pulse media enquiry about current and future seven-day access included the 'I heart Barnsley' wave two Access Fund pilot, which said it will receive £1.5m further funding this year, on top of last year's £2.5m initial allocation, which a spokesperson said was based on '£6 per head of population'..'

A spokesperson for NHS England said: 'There is a national evaluation of both wave one and wave two of the GP Access Fund. This information will be available for wave one in August and for wave two in the autumn, and will be located on the NHS England website.

'NHS England is in discussions with the Government about the requirements for 2016/17 and will be discussing these with current GP Access schemes shortly.'

The House of Commons health committee, chaired by former GP Dr Sarah Wollaston, has questioned how the Government intends to pay for seven-day routine GP services, warning that it will lead to other NHS cuts.

In a report quoting preivous Pulse investigations into the pilot schemes, the influential commitee of MPs has also recommended further evaluation before committing more funding.

Readers' comments (26)

  • Outrageous unnecessary and disgraceful waste of public NHS money which is not funded for decadent convenience but patient care ... The latter will suffer
    Conservatives have lied or not kept most of their pre election bribes ... Why keep this wasteful insanity when camoron its prime mover ran away in disgrace after the worst debacle since WW2
    Surreal

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  • 10:21: somebody voted for these Camorons and will vote for them at the next election too. A moron begets a moron.

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  • Cobblers

    Roll up, roll up, six quid a head and 7/7 working. No evidence base and money will be stopped or allowed to wither and you will STILL be required to work 7/7.

    Might this be worth a "No"? I somehow doubt it as 'Sheep' springs to mind rather than 'Cats'.

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  • And there's me thinking that GPs were professionals, dedicated to the Health and Wellbeing of the Public and Patients. People DO get seriously ill at weekends, but not ill enough to pass the HUGE White on Red notices boards outside my local A&E Hospital telling us all that only cases of Life or Death need stand in the queue for 4 hours(+) to be seen.
    We are now in a 7 day working week culture. Sunday shopping in supermarkets was a minority activity when it first started, and is now a boom period with the footfall on other days having fallen to 'compensate'.
    So too will we see the situation with GPs, and there will be increasing 'slack' in the system Monday - Friday as Sat'y and Sun'y fill.
    Think of the luxury of having weekdays away from work instead of packing everything into the weekend.
    Accentuate the positive - be professional - you chose to have your mouths stuffed with gold, AND stay as private contractors to our NHS, AND you control £70 bn/ year of OUR NHS budget thru' your CCGs.
    What more DO you want? Blood?

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  • JUST SAY NO!!or NO THANKS!

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  • The 7/7 in supermarkets are also a failure and Tesco does not open 7/7 where it used to as well. This does call for people to pay for GP services to avoid abuse like seeing in urgent care centre for years old problem investigated many times over and/or more resources .

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  • Not viable. See if Virgin takes it up for £6 per patient.

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  • when you get free service at point of delivery, it is bound to get misused. this is a fact. i am seeing patients for 40 years. most appointments taken are from worried well.
    no one value importance of consultation till one has to pay for service. if you open surgery 24/7 people will come. nhs111, walk in center and now this is all waste of poor tax payer's money

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  • Ignore these comments.It's good money if you're large non single handed practice which many of us are.No shortage of finding doctors.Just recruited 3 fresh eager faces straight out of vts.

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  • “….we provide one GP, Nurse and Receptionist for a population of around 70,000 4pm-8pm Mon-Fri and 8-8 Sat + Sun in a dedicated facility. It's designed for working at scale and in our experience at least, works well and provides some extra capacity and flexible times for the practices in our area”.

    I’d be interested to know how this works in your area, feel free to email me “Anonymous | Practice Manager11 Aug 2016 8:30pm” - s.cribb-lr@nhs.net

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