NHS England has made changes to the GP contract to enable the two May bank holidays to be treated as normal working days.
The contract changes – which have been put in place as part of the NHS response to the Covid-19 pandemic – had already enabled NHS England to mandate practices to open as usual for both Good Friday and Easter Monday.
NHS England is currently in discussions about what level of service practices will need to provide in May, but has pledged to give longer notice than it did for the Easter holiday.
Speaking in a live webinar yesterday evening, Dr Nikki Kanani, NHS England primary care medical director, said: ‘We’re discussing [May bank holidays] with regions and with GPC at the moment to see what we think we need for May – both the early bank holiday and the late bank holiday.
‘We want to let you know next week so that you have more time to prepare for it because we recognise that we didn’t give you enough time before.’
NHS England director for primary care strategy and contracts Ed Waller added: ‘A redefinition of core contract hours allows us to change arrangements around bank holidays which we did for Easter and as Nikki says we’ll do for May as well.’
NHS England has said practices would be reimbursed ‘in full’ for extra costs incurred for opening over Easter but capped costs for extra staff at certain rates.
Other contract changes stipulate GPs need to open up their appointment books to NHS 111’s Covid clinical assessment service (CCAS) and temporary cancels workloads including the Friends and Family Test.