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NHS managers begin talks to create routine GP Saturday opening in London

NHS chiefs in London have begun talks with CCG leaders about shifting funds into general practice in a bid to offer longer appointments, create a seven-day general practice service and change GP contactual arrangements in the capital.

The planned reorganisation – which was set out in a landmark report last year – was launched today by the NHS England London area team and will cost up to £810m a year over the next five years, which London NHS managers and CCG leaders say could come from other parts of the capital’s health budget.

It marks the first step towards implementing the ideas set out in last year’s report, with talks set to begin between the local area team and the CCGs in the capital.

The plans for general practice – the first of the 12 health programmes to go live – include:

  • routine opening from 8am-noon on Saturdays;
  • opening 8am to 8pm, seven days a week via a network of practices;
  • telephone triage system;
  • flexible appointment lengths;
  • add-on services such as citizen’s advice and probation services;
  • liaising with schools and workplaces to improve health literacy within their patient population;
  • outreach for patients not currently seeking healthcare
  • working to joint contracts with other GP practices, primary care, social care and hospital providers;
  • identifying all patients that need ‘coordinated care’ and manage their care through multidisciplinary teams.

A spokesperson for NHS England London told Pulse: ‘The proposals outlined the estimated cost of between £310 and £810m over the next five years, and the next steps are going to be to make that happen. If we can attract new investment that is great but the point is it can be done with what is there – we just need to shift the funds slightly.

‘Those conversations and all the actions needed among relevant people will now happen as a result of this framework being published.’

Dr Marc Rowland, chair of London CCGs and a GP in Lewisham, said: ‘Today marks a major milestone in our vision of transforming care for millions of Londoners. CCGs across London have come together and we are working closely with NHS England and other organisations to tackle a wide range of issues, including primary care, cancer treatment, mental health and services for the homeless.

‘London’s population is growing and changing and we need to keep looking ahead and working collaboratively to ensure we can meet the people’s needs and provide world class care all across the capital.’

Dr Michelle Drage, chief executive of Londonwide LMCs, said the reorganisation plans were ‘moving in the right direction’ but was sceptical as to whether the funding would be realised.

Dr Drage said: ‘Our view is that you can’t do any of that without the money up front – or at least confidence that there is going to be money. We want them to put their money where their mouth is – to support GPs to work collaboratively so that patients can receive the best of care with the resources we’ve got.’

She added: ‘If this moves us in that direction it’s got to be better than doing nothing, but it’s really down to people on the ground to move things on – you can’t just wave a magic transformation wand and hope they will deliver. And you definitely can’t if you haven’t got people on the ground who are fired up and motivated – and we certainly don’t have that, we’ve got a workforce crisis in London that means it’s really difficult.’

Pulse Live 2015 Scotland plug