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Independents' Day

PM's seven-day access drive extended to 1,400 more GP practices

The Prime Minister’s drive to extend GP access has been extended today, with a further 37 bids approved, covering more than 1,400 practices.

The practices will be given a share of an additional £100m to extend access to GP practices at evenings and weekends.

One bid from 87 Sheffield GP practices has been granted funding worth £9m, and will see seven-day GP access in five sites across the city.

Another successful bid from Tower Hamlets will see four GP ‘hubs’ across the borough will provide 8am-8pm access seven days a week and pharmacist training to offer more prescriptions.

Elsewhere, a scheme in Manchester – where seven-day opening was pioneered – has been given funding worth £5.4m, to cover 92 practices.

This is the second tranche of funding from the Prime Minister’s ‘Challenge Fund’, which is aimed to improve access to GPs on evenings and weekends and improve the use of technology, and follows the first tranche that invested £50m.

The bids will be for funding over 12 months, and successful bids have come in from all over the country.

The most recent investment, announced during the Conservative Party conference in September, came after Pulse revealed that many of first group of pilots had yet to begin in September last year, despite funding being due to end in April.

As a result, NHS England said in February it will extend funding for the pilots to allow ‘fuller analysis’, after admitting that there was insufficient data to measure the success of the scheme ten months into the year-long pilots.

The additional funding comes as NHS managers in London have begun talks to create routine GP Saturday opening in London.

Dr Chaand Nagpaul, chair of the GPC, said: ‘It’s vital that this new money is used in ways that meet the needs of patients, and to support practices to ease the pressures on GPs struggling to cope with escalating patient demand. There was evidence from the first wave of pilots that despite low demand for appointments, NHS resources were being spent on keeping some practices open on Sundays.

‘Going forward, we must allow pilot sites to implement their funding allocation flexibly and make necessary changes to plans or services to ensure appropriate use of the resources provided.’

He added that the BMA ‘remains concerned’ that the funding is for only a year, and practices will not have resources to continue any successful initiatives.

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Readers' comments (28)

  • The problem with these schemes is that they are only funded for one year. Post-election, when the evidence for cost saving is weak and CCGs don't want to fund them... then what? I hope whichever government is in power realises that primary care must receive greater funding in return for increased capacity - however this is achieved.

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  • Isn't it about time we fix access in hours when most of us are working flat out and most of the patients require proper help, we have no capacity or desire to work more hours.
    In hours medicine with all the support services in place is good medicine; my Saturdays are next to useless as a lot have to come back for other services duplicating trips for the patient. As Bob G said give us the ........ money and you'll find an improved service. This may have more GPs with more time to sort things properly,educate patients, support them early- chucking money at extended hours services will be throwing it away in terms of efficiency and cost/ patient.
    I personally am seeing 40-50 a day the demand cannot be matched in hours and if I have to work Sat/Sun I'll not be in in the week when I'm already flat out.

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  • Practice - "Dear Mr Hunt. The project was a success! We saw another 1 million patients and they were all delighted. Can we have our funding carried forward please?"

    Mr Hunt - "Sure. It'll be in next year's QOF. If you see 2 million patients we will give you £1000"

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  • Sadly, patients don't realize what this means.

    Weekend access costs more to provide then weekdays. Even if I was happy to work at same rate (which I'm not. I already only see my family less then couple of hours/day), my reception/admin/nurses will want x1.5-2 pay. This is sacrificing money that could have been used more effectively in hours for convenience of appointment. There are no evidence increasing GP access decreases AED attendances our hospital admission.

    Is it so bad you cannot access non emergency service for 2 days in a week? Many other country don't have any free access to primary care and manage. We need to stop the dependency on health care!

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  • Ivan Benett

    This is excellent news and we will be able to develop the service further, and better integrate with the rest of the urgent care and planned care system.
    However, as earlier anon comment, this is no substitute for effective in-hours access funded through GMS contract.
    Well done Manchester GP providers. Once again Manchester leading the way

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  • this is not sustainable. throwing little lumps of money here and there for weekend opening is a sticking plaster, and unfortunately being done for the wrong reasons.
    we have no data that a&e attendances have dropped with weekend opening. as a recently qualified gp i am very close to leaving my salaried job to start locuming because of things like this.

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  • Can people not see that this is not about rational and clinically necessary use of the NHS but is political? Why should we dilute services and reduce our own quality of life (and worsen the current and imminent manpower problems) so that politicians can claim credit for some sort of "achievement". Fund routine in hours and emergency OOH properly and suggest that patients use the free-at-the-point of need service responsibly. One could always add a pay-per-consultation routine evening and weekend service for those who want even more than I imagine private GPs provide (in terms of opening hours) so that those most in need do not have their service undermined and down-graded.

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  • Vinci Ho

    Typically the PM spoke about the subject of 7 days opening in his party spring forum typically in Manchester . BBC analysis was a fair one:
    By Ben Wright, BBC political correspondent
    This spring forum is about fighting back against Labour on the NHS.
    Polls show a clear, large consistent lead for Ed Miliband's party on the NHS. It is the foundation stone of Labour's campaign.
    But the Conservatives are desperate to chip away at it with promises of protected real-terms increases in funding and an extra £2bn a year.
    The Conservatives are committing to providing full weekend hospital care in England - in line with the NHS's own five-year plan.
    The big question of course is, "Where will the money come from?", but this is about politics.
    This is an attempt to try to neutralise the NHS and enable the Conservatives to return to what they want to be talking about - the economy.

    Yes. It is about politics.....

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  • Vinci Ho

    Dedicate this song , one of my all time favourites, to those who 'strongly' believe what they believe. Please at least be honest to yourself:
    Honesty - Billy Joey
    If you search for tenderness
    It isn't hard to find
    You can have the love you need to live
    But if you look for truthfulness
    You might just as well be blind
    It always seems to be so hard to give

    Honesty is such a lonely word
    Everyone is so untrue
    Honesty is hardly ever heard
    And mostly what I need from you

    I can always find someone
    To say they sympathize
    If I wear my heart out on my sleeve
    But I don't want some pretty face
    To tell me pretty lies
    All I want is someone to believe

    Honesty is such a lonely word
    Everyone is so untrue
    Honesty is hardly ever heard
    And mostly what I need from you

    I can find a lover
    I can find a friend
    I can have security
    Until the bitter end
    Anyone can comfort me
    With promises again
    I know, I know

    When I'm deep inside of me
    Don't be too concerned
    I won't ask for nothin' while I'm gone
    But when I want sincerity
    Tell me where else can I turn
    Cause you're the one that I depend upon

    Honesty is such a lonely word
    Everyone is so untrue
    Honesty is hardly ever heard
    And mostly what I need from you

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  • i think both parties are promising 7 day a week NHS services so it will happen. I don't think there will be new money but it's likely that in order to maintain current funding you will have to offer the service. If you don't you just won't get the money. let's wait and see.

    I'd love to know what Ivan thinks about 24 hr service - which i think will be next on the agenda. It will be a challenge for you to provide with no new staff or funding?

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