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At the heart of general practice since 1960

NHS bosses call summit to tackle in-hours GP access

Exclusive GP leaders will meet with NHS bosses this week to discuss how practices can remain open in core hours even when staff are on training days or other events.

Pulse has learnt the meeting - to take place on Thursday - will discuss how NHS England can ‘support’ practices to maintain patient access and meet their contractual requirements.

It comes in the wake of a public falling out between the GPC and NHS England regarding practices closing early on Christmas Eve or New Year’s Eve. To date 12 London-based GP practices have been issued with breach notices for closing early after NHS England advised that practices should not hand over to out-of-hours providers in core hours on those days.

NHS England said it will meet with representatives from the GPC, LMCs and CCGs this week to discuss how GPs can ‘attend networking and learning events’ without reducing patient access, or risk breaching their contractual terms.

Dr David Geddes, head of primary care at NHS England, said that although area teams had already written to practices where they believe that there have been breaches of their contract due to closing in core hours, they wanted to work out a process going forward.

He said: ‘The issuing of breach notices is not something that is undertaken lightly and conversations are being had between contractors and area teams on the issues.

‘Going forward, NHS England is hosting a meeting with GPC, LMC and CCG representatives to discuss the issues of how we support GP practices to network and attend learning events, whilst ensuring contract compliance and maintaining access to patients.’

But GPC deputy chair Dr Richard Vautrey said NHS England’s ‘very heavy-handed’ approach over the Christmas holidays was worrying.

He said: ‘It is very heavy-handed actually to prevent practices from following customary practice around Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve. This is a discussion following on from the huge anxiety that was created [as a result].’

Family Doctor Association chair Dr Peter Swinyard said the premise of the meeting was ‘nonsense’. He said: ‘If they don’t want GPs and their staff to be trained they can do as they please, but the contract we have does not require the surgery doors to be open from 8am to 6.30pm.’

He added: ‘It is perfectly reasonable for a practice to close down for a couple of hours for a training session, we do it occasionally at our practice. We had a retraining session on resuscitation, it wouldn’t be much fun for patients to wander in and see all the staff on the floor bouncing up and down on on top of Resusci Annes, or throwing the senior partner into the recovery position, so we shut the doors for a couple of hours.’

Readers' comments (34)

  • Put The Daily Mail in charge of General Practice, have us all flogged daily and waterboarded and made to enter General Practice by Law instead of other more Humane specialities and there you have it.....a bloody tyranny.....run by Camoron and his chums.

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  • Greedy, Bentley driving GPs living in Mansions. Many worth over £200 million pounds...."cos i read it in The Daily Mail".
    What we need is Paul Dacre at the Helm of society...maybe Prime Minister even??

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  • Why not move all the mandatory training to W/E when GP's are well known for sitting on there arse! This then sorts weekday access and moves this pseudo "problem" to the W/E. To ensure I then turn up to my mandatory training I'll then have to employ someone to cut the grass,hedge etc so potentially solving the unemployment issue as well.

    Alternatively they could all "grow up!"

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  • We must make patients not go to A/E so should we be given powers of arrest? Patient choice clearly must be suppressed then and they must be made to do as we say it seems??
    How about GPs in uniform on patrol outside A/E departments, walking the beat. Any patients spotted lurking in the bushes could be appropriately arrested, put in the van and delivered back to the practice??

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  • I hope our negotiators show some courage rather than pandering to political correctness and put up a decent fight onthis issue.If not the above comments might be prophetic.What a joke!

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  • Maybe dealing effectively with the ongoing catastophic recruitment crisis might be a place to start.

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  • "discuss how GPs can ‘attend networking and learning events’ without reducing patient access, or risk breaching their contractual terms"

    Unless they are paying for locums for us or allow us to be omnipotent, it is impossible not to reduce the access at the same time as attending these events. I already do a lot of studying in my private time - update course, elearning, even spent 8 -10hours/week for around 16 weeks couple of years back on dermatology diploma, much to my family's disappointment.

    Want me to give up even more time? I don't think so, I think I'll quit thank you.

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  • Perhaps doctors should reflect about accessing appointments when they find themselves as patients.

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  • As a non-GP, this is a tricky one. Patients often complain that there is not enough access to GPs - partly due to part-time GPs, partly due to these commitments but mostly due to two things - increased demand and increased expectation. It appears GPs are a victim of their own success and the political will of their paymasters.
    I would echo the comments of 11:50 about reflecting on access
    Most non-GP healthcare providers do not ask for more to provide the service they are contracted to - maybe they should!

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  • I guess NHS England staff do all their training in their own time, like they all stayed until 6pm on Christmas Eve and New Year's Eve!

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