NHS England has stated that CCGs will be given additional funds to allow GPs to remain open for longer on weekdays. Weekend opening of practices is set to be decided based on demand that is generated in the local area.
A minimum of an additional ninety minutes to each practice’s weekday opening hours will be added. It appears as though the ambition to see a 7 day working practice as a requirement will only be the reserve of those practices within particular high demand areas.
The additional annual funding is expected to be £138m by 2017/18 and £258m by 2018/19. This is an additional payment of £6 per patient. This scheme will begin with pilot sites during this financial year covering a third of the population and 18m patients; it has been announced that London will receive this funding commencing this financial year also. The £6 per patient payment to improve access to GPs will be the minimum level form 2019 onwards to help improve access to GPs.
The availability of GPs to support with the healthcare requirements of a local community can go some way to preventing the development of healthcare conditions where possible. The ability to compel practices to have at least some capacity over weekends could be interpreted as a missed step with the latest guidance on implementation from the NHS. Whilst additional capacity during the week will be welcomed, for the working population at least, increased GP access at weekends would be beneficial.