The Government has called on NHS England to ensure GPs start providing same-day appointments to patients aged over 75, under a new Government mandate aimed at delivering on a pre-election manifesto commitment.
The Department of Health says work on the pledge should begin this year on how to make sure GPs can provide patients with the same-day appointments ‘when needed’.
The requirement is among a series of goals set by the DH in its latest NHS Mandate, which outlines the department’s expectations for the service for 2017/18.
It states that as part of this year’s goals, NHS England must ‘agree a programme of work to assess how best to meet the commitment that all over-75s will be able to access a same-day appointment with a GP if they need one’.
GP leaders previously said the pledge was too ‘simplistic’ and would ‘distort clinical priorities’ while Labour questioned how the Tories could fund it.
The new 2017/18 mandate also states that NHS England must make sure that ‘all care home residents at risk of admission to hospital are first seen by a GP or ambulance “see and treat” model’.
It also says that ‘a total of 40% of the population’ England should have access to ‘enhanced GP services, including evening and weekend access’ by the end of 2017/18.
It comes after last year’s NHS mandate – which also set out expecations through to 2020 – stated that 100% of the population should have evening and weekend GP access, and that new models of general practice should cover half the population by the end of 2020/21.
NHS England has already failed to deliver on a mandate to prepare the new ‘voluntary’ contract for multispecialty community providers for 2017/18 rollout, as none of NHS England’s six MCP pilot areas are ready to enter contractual arrangements from April as had been the plan.