By Steve Nowottny
The Government has extended central funding for GP practices to offer evening and weekend appointments – but slashed the payment per patient by more than a third.
Under the new GP contract deal, GPC negotiators and NHS Employers have agreed to roll over the Extended Hours Access DES for one year, until 31 March 2012.
The new deal reduces the payment per registered patients from £3.01 to £1.90, but introduces a number of flexibilities into the provision of extended hours, including:
• during extended opening hours appointments may be offered by any healthcare professional, rather than GPs only;
• the current restriction on concurrent working during extended opening hours will be removed;
• urgent as well as routine care patients can be seen;
• the minimum continuous period of extended opening will be reduced from one and a half hours to 30 minutes.
The funding released through the reduction in extended hours payments – around £60 million in total – will be shifted to a new Patient Participation DES.
Full coverage of the contract deal
Contract headlines:Full coverage of the contract deal Money Extended hours funding cut by a third