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GPs to open on bank holidays to ‘align with rest of NHS’

GP practices in England will need to stay open over the Easter – and possibly May – bank holidays this year as NHS England confirmed they are to be treated as ordinary working days.

In a letter to GPs on the ’emerging Covid-19 situation’, NHS England said it would make changes to the GP contract to mean Good Friday and Easter Monday (10 and 13 April) are now to be identified as ‘normal working days’.

They added that this could also be the case for the two May bank holidays, but this will not be confirmed until April.

NHS England’s letter said: ‘Practices and the wider NHS will continue to be under ever-increasing pressure over the coming weeks, including through Easter (10 and 13 April) and, looking forward, to May bank holidays (8 and 25 May).

‘We need your help to be prepared and aligned with the rest of the NHS, which will be treating these as ordinary working days and cancelling staff annual leave to ensure services are able to be maintained.

‘To enable this, changes to the GP contract coming imminently mean the April dates will now be identified as normal working days for GP practices, so that we can manage demand together. The position for the May bank holidays will be confirmed next month.’

The decision comes as NHS England expects infections from the virus to peak over the period. The BMA said last week that it was working with NHS England on the details of a contractual change to mandate Easter opening.