A group of GP practices have come together to win a £10m contract to provide seven-day access to patients in their area.
Yorkshire Health Partners, a provider company set up by a federation of 10 GP practices, has entered into the contract with NHS East Riding of Yorkshire for a five-year term.
Under the deal, the federation’s 50 GPs will staff evening and weekend clinics across the NHS East Riding of Yorkshire CCG area. The CCG said the deal will result in an additional 600 appointments per week, rising to 900 per week from 2020.
CCGs are mandated by NHS England to provide evening and weekend appointments, with all CCGs set to receive £6 per patient to fund the move from next April.
The first clinics will start from October this year covering Goole and the surrounding area, with patients to be able to make appointments via NHS 111, as well as their own GP practice.
Dr Krishna Kasaraneni, Humberside LMC medical director, said this contract was a ‘small victory for general practice in the region’, and showed ‘significant interest from GPs in East Riding to work together for the benefit of general practice in the region and for the benefit of patients’.
However, Dr Kasaraneni also called for further government support for general practice in the area.
He said: ‘There’ll still be some issues at the beginning such as how local GPs will staff the resource. But the most important step that GPs need to take, they’ve taken. Unfortunately that’s not all that’s required for the success of something like this.’
‘The Government needs to address the wiser issues with workforce, workload and funding in general practice to make sure that this kind of momentum is sustained for a long period of time and it actually works in favour of patients and GPs,’ he added.
The CCG area includes the coastal town of Bridlington, which has been in crisis for some time due to a shortage of GPs.
Dr Alan Francis, vice chair of the Hull and East Yorkshire LMC and GP in Bridlington, said he had ‘mixed views’ on the news.
He said: ‘Investment in primary care is always to be welcomed, and increased capacity is certainly needed in Bridlington. However the challenge is whether the provider has the capacity to ensure that the extra hours are adequately covered.
‘The concern, particularly in rural areas, is that there may be pressure on those local practitioners who are already overstretched to provide those additional hours. Money isn’t the only resource challenge facing Bridlington – workforce is arguably an even bigger one.’
NHS East Riding of Yorkshire CCG chair Dr Gina Palumbo said: ‘As a GP, I am often told by patients that they sometimes find it difficult to get an appointment at their GP practice at a date and time that is convenient to them.
‘We are therefore very pleased to be working with Yorkshire Health Partners Limited who, over time, will bring in this additional and much needed capacity through a mix of doctors, nurses and other health care professionals at evenings and weekends.’
Yorkshire Health Partners chair Dr Noel Tinker said: ‘We are delighted to have been awarded this contract. We are working closely with our GP practice colleagues to ensure that the additional appointments can be introduced safely and via existing, well-understood systems.’
Earlier this year, one local Bridlington GP predicted that 10 more were needed in the town, which has put strain on practices. Meanwhile, plans to inject life back into the area with a building that would house five GP practices was scrapped in March after NHS England pulled the plug on funding.
At the same tme, NHS Vale of York Clinical CCG announced it has awarded Nimbuscare Ltd, a group of local GP practices, a £4m, three-year contract to deliver a new extended access primary care service in central York.
Dr Russell Saxby of Nimbuscare Ltd and My Health Practice said: ‘This is fantastic news for patients. It is the biggest investment in primary care for some years and we are delighted and proud to be at the forefront of this new service in York.’