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Independents' Day

PM announces major expansion of seven-day GP access pilots

Over 1,000 GP practices will trial 24-hour telephone access and weekend surgeries as part of a major move towards radically extending GP opening hours announced by the Prime Minister today.

Practices covering 7.5m patients will split a new £50m fund designed to support ‘forward-thinking services to suit busy lifestyles’ the DH said.

In total, 20 bids - instead of a planned nine - from 1,147 practices have been accepted, including one bid of almost £1m from private healthcare provider Care UK to run an England-wide ‘super practice’ available by telephone 24 hours.

The Department of Health said the area covered by the scheme has been expanded, from initial plans to cover 500,000 patients, because of an ‘enthusiastic response’ from GPs. However, the amount of money spent on the scheme is not going to increase.

Successful bids include a £1m Birmingham scheme to offer 8am to 8pm GP appointments to patients, seven days a week. The largest slice of funding - £5.6m - has been awarded to NHS Barking and Dagenham CCG and NHS Havering and Redbridge CCG to run an extended access and ‘tailored care’ scheme.

Areas where networks of GP practices will provide evening and weekend surgeries also include northwest London, Southwark, West Wakefield, Devon, Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly, Morecambe, Bury, Warrington, Darlington, Folkestone and Dover, Bristol, Slough, Herefordshire, Derbyshre and Nottingham, Watford, as well as in in Hambleton, Richmondshire and Whitby.

In some of these areas GPs will also be offering extra services such as Skype consultations, including in Devon, Cornwall and Isles of Scilly for example. The area has been awarded £3,575,000 to run a pilot with 230 GP practices to trial Skype consultations as well as offering services in additional venues, establishing new urgent care centres with extended opening hours and a GP-led case-management services across primary, community and secondary care.

Details of the access fund come as the DH publicised its ‘Transforming General Practice’ plan - essentially a repackaging of existing schemes - including a commitment to train 10,000 more frontline community staff - including GPs - by 2020, the ‘named GP’ contactual obligation for GPs and the unplanned admissions DES.

It said the scheme came with ‘dedicated funding of almost £500 per patient’ - which a DH spokesperson explained as the £150m DES funding plus a further £250m expected to be spent by CCGs.

Prime Minister David Cameron said: ‘Back in October, I said I wanted to make it easier for people to get appointments that fit in around a busy working week and family commitments.

‘There has been a great response from doctors, with lots of innovative ideas, and we will now see over seven million patients given weekend and evening opening hours, alongside more access to their family doctor on the phone, via email or even Skype. This is an important step and good news for patients.’

But the GPC warned that a ‘long-term plan’ is needed to support all GP practices. GPC chair Dr Chaand Nagpaul said: ‘These pilots will give some GPs the opportunity and resources to test ways of improving access, use of technology and extend their opening times in areas where it is felt there is demand from local patients.

‘However, as pilots, it is important that these are independently evaluated to ensure they are a responsible use of stretched NHS funds.

‘We must ensure that practices have the flexibility to tailor their opening times appropriately for their local population, and this must not be at the expense of their availability to those most vulnerable patients in greatest need.’

PM’s GP Access Fund

Q: What is it?

A: Announced during the Tory party conference last autumn as the prime minister’s ‘challenge’ fund, this is a £50m fund that is separate from the GP contract or enhanced services, for which practice could apply specially until February.

Q: What will practices do?

A: Practices were asked to bid for money to provide 8am to 8pm opening seven days a week, offer Skype consultations and more telephone consultations.

Q: How long is this for?

A: Just a year, for now.

Q: Why is the GPC concerned?

A: They question whether extending hours for busy working people is the best use of stretched NHS fund and expresses concern that this does not mean GPs become less easily available for their most vulnerable patients.



Related images

  • opening hours special report  PPL - online

Readers' comments (53)

  • Vinci Ho

    As expected.
    The critical question is what will be the majority and minority in general practice , if this is to apply to majority oh general practice , £50 million is enough , seriously??
    Then of course , it is also the optimal amount of money to train and recruit GPs. You can see Darth Vader and hence Agent Hunt are wasting no time to claim a credit (as the pilot has already finished) primarily for the Conservatives. Why not? General Election is on the horizon.
    Finally, what about continuity(seeing the same GP for chronic problems)in general practice ? I suppose all politicians and bureaucrats will try to avoid answering this question?
    All comments are welcome

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  • People want convenient appointments . This is to suit employers . If you are ill then take time off work . Since the banks have taken all the muckin funny there are only resources left for what is actually needed.

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  • Just heard agent hunt on r4 (day off after weekend working before anyone asks!) "we live in a society where we can visit the supermarket 24/7 or bank online 24/7... The nhs has to keep up." For gods sake... HEALTHCARE ISN'T BANKING OR FOOD SHOPPING. Apples aren't wheelbarrows either! If the stopped and thought about it they'd realise '24/7' culture is one of the CAUSES of isolation , mental illness and breakdown of social cohesion. It's all well and good offering this stuff for Joe public - But IM A MEMBER OF THE PUBLIC ALSO. What about ME? When do I get time with MY FAMILY, when do I get to see MY GP?? God knows I'll need them with this shower in office.... Hey I have an idea.. Why dint we have GPs who offer extended hours for GPs? And we can also have GPs who have extended hours for GPs for GPs... And maybe GPs for the GPs of GP's GPs while we are at it. Sounds like an election winner to me. #stopmeddling #letmedonyjob. Rant complete. OVER AND OUT

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  • Again, for the millionth time, if only the GPC read this : quit on mass and good terms will follow. Simple. Partners need to show some guts or just take it and shut up. Ex-partner, living in oz, waiting till things (if they??) get better to consider returning. A GPC reply would be great. C'mon one of you must read pulse!!

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  • Supermarkets and banks generate money by opening . For primary care staying open requires increased expenditure .

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  • Cue to complaints today from patients: "I heard on the news that you are open 8-8, 7 days a week now". Funds have been awarded to super practices, CCGs and Federations. Unsustainable for your average practice. We applied and met the criteria only for the goalposts to be moved. DoH wanted bids from 50+ groups of practices, so we lost before we applied. £500m on A&E for 3 mths, £50m for some practices over 12 mths - under resourced and poorly thought out. Even the Independent on Sunday fell for this government BS. It is past time the BMA/GPC/RCGP did something about it. Strikes must be balloted for now before it really is too late. - Dissolusioned Practice Manager.

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  • I think a recent bulletin from our LMC says it all about the LMC/BMA response. The message was that after the 2015 election it was inevitable 8 till 8 7/7 would be expected and suggested we start planning for it now.Does this sort of action ,which I'm sure is filtering down from the BMA,sound familiar?

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  • ''I think a recent bulletin from our LMC says it all about the LMC/BMA response. The message was that after the 2015 election it was inevitable 8 till 8 7/7 would be expected and suggested we start planning for it now''
    Yes I am planning. The plan is very simple . Canada here I come.

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  • Your collegues who applied for this fund have seriously shafted you. As funding decreases in primary care and we're all feeling the pinch HMG have thrown coins to the peasants and you're scrabbing about picking them up- fools. Now the patients expect more again form a poorly funded service and its GP's fault. Well done, enjoy the 50m now.

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  • Just wait for Care UK to fail - as has 111 and OOH !!!!

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