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NHS England pledges £500m to roll out seven-day GP access

NHS England has pledged an extra £500m to CCGs to commission seven-day routine GP access.

The funding was revealed in the General Practice Forward View, published today, which said this would ensure everyone’s access to GP services to weekend and evening appointments by 2020.

In a slight rollback on the Government’s manifesto pledge of routine seven-day access for all, the Forward View added that this would be based on ‘locally determined demand’.

The document said: ‘NHS England will provide additional funding, on top of current primary medical care allocations – over £500 million by 2020/21 – to enable CCGs to commission and fund extra capacity across England to ensure that by 2020, everyone has access to GP services, including sufficient routine appointments at evenings and weekends to meet locally determined demand, alongside effective access to out of hours and urgent care services.’

The Forward View said extended access would be made possible by the setting up of Primary Care Access Hubs across England.

To back up the model of joint working across practices, NHS England said it has mandated CCGs to spend £171m on helping practices ‘transform’ how they work.

The document said: ’NHS England will ask CCGs to provide £171 million of practice transformational support.’

It said this was aimed to:

  • stimulate development of at scale providers for extended access delivery;
  • stimulate implementation of the 10 high impact changes in order to free up GP time to care;
  • secure sustainability of general practice to improve in-hours access.

The news comes as Pulse revealed yesterday that NHS England is already providing ongoing funding to all of the seven-day access pilots that have run out of money.

The Prime Minister’s flagship intention for seven-day routine GP appointments has had a chequered rollout, especially since the official evaluation of the first wave of pilots concluded there was not sufficient demand on Sundays to warrant the cost of keeping the sessions.

The new services piloted also put pressure on recruitment to more labour-intensive and risk-laden out-of-hours shift work provided by GPs.

But NHS England said that it would ‘build on the lessons’ from the pilots ‘to support CCGs in commissioning additional capacity more consistently across the country, and in developing closer links with urgent care and out-of-hours services’.

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