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GPs buried under trusts' workload dump

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)

  • 24/7/365 IS EVEN BETTER..

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  • Out of hours GP services exist for "seriously ill but not seriously ill enough for hospital" at weekends. At least, they do until all their doctors are diverted to man the unnecessary routine weekend services

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  • Carry on bribing with wasted precious money useful idiots for an idiotic idea wasting money on convenience NHS cannot afford
    Why carry on with this pre election bribe when all the other lies have not been honoured?

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  • V small practice £6/head comes out at £60 per weekend day. £5/hr. No ta.

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  • dear 11.46 'work for third sector'
    your comment is both ludicrous and offensive
    have you not heard of the gp led out of hours service which IS for urgent problems not requiring AED?
    what on earth are you talking about?
    this extra money should be going into that service which is now threadbare and near collapse in some areas by poaching dr time and money by duplicating it.there is absolutely no need for a routine weekend gp service....which IS what we are talking about here..if people want that convenience ..fine..they should pay for it as a private service ..they are most certainly not paying for it adequately from taxation..it should not be taken out of the nhs pot which is currently underfunded even for urgent clinical need
    I do not blame gps for being involved as we need resources from wherever..but do not understand why this inane wasteful pre election bribe from camoron persists though suspect due to the brain dead runt.
    please find out some facts before posting..that is if you do work in the health service rather than trolling.

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  • 2019: lets now offer £1.45?!? How does that compute? And how do we also manage to cut hospital beds too?

    Sounds like budget is decided then decisions are made and evidence to support it found. Good Strategic Review to associate expectations with budgets is needed! The current divorse may protect politicians for a while, but the reality will be more and more apparent with time.

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