Since the launch of Prime Minister David Cameron’s flagship seven-day GP access scheme, the Government has thrown millions and millions of pounds into it to ensure it can deliver on its key manifesto pledge.
In 2013, Mr Cameron initially revealed that the Government would be providing CCGs with £50m from the ‘Challenge Fund’ – later renamed the GP Access Fund – for 20 areas to trial seven-day GP access.
And then a year later at the Tory party conference, a further £400m in set up costs was announced to support the roll out of seven-day GP access across England by 2020. Practices or groups of practices were invited to bid for an initial £100m fund for the second wave of pilots – later extended with an extra £25m from the then-supposed-to-be premises upgrade fund.
But as revealed by Pulse, NHS England is has been providing ongoing funding to all of the Prime Minister’s seven-day access pilots after their funding has run out, despite plans for them to become self-sustaining by cutting the number of A&E attendances at weekends and evenings.
The latest official announcement from NHS England was a pledge of £500m in extra funding outlined in the GP Forward View to ensure ‘everyone has access to weekend and evening GP appointments by 2020.’
The GP Forward View, 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.’
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