There are currently ‘no plans’ to ask GP practices to open for routine services over the Christmas and New Year bank holidays, NHS England has said.
In a bulletin to GP practices, NHS England said this comes as the possibility had been ‘kept under review’ by commissioners.
However it added that GP hubs providing Covid vaccinations may still need to keep open depending on vaccine supply circumstances.
The bulletin said: ‘Your local commissioners have been planning weekend and bank holiday cover arrangements for this coming Christmas and New Year period. The possibility that all primary care (general practice, community pharmacy, dentistry and optometry) could again be asked to routinely open to meet surge demands from the combined challenges this winter has naturally been kept under review, but we can confirm there are currently no such plans.
‘Local commissioners and primary care providers can therefore continue to plan on the basis of their planned cover arrangements.’
NHS England went on to thank anyone who has volunteered or agreed to provide such cover, adding: ‘We recognise that everyone in primary care has made a huge commitment this year to ensure their patients continue to access the services they need. This includes working weekends, bank holidays and through religious holidays and festivals.
‘We are extremely grateful and recognise the need to preserve public holidays has never been more important, providing some additional and much needed time to recharge.’
Regarding Covid vaccinations over the holidays, the bulletin added: ‘The Enhanced Service for the Covid-19 Vaccination Programme is a seven-day service but the delivery demands of this will be vaccine supply led.’