Bradshaw claims competition is extending practice hours

Competition between practices is driving the sudden rise in practices offering extended hours, say ministers.

Ben Bradshaw
Ben Bradshaw

Health minister Ben Bradshaw claims that where a practice is delivering extended opening, a neighbouring practice is twice as likely to also provide extended opening, based on figures from NHS Choices.

But figures obtained by GP last week suggest that extended hours is taking off in areas where PCTs have developed more flexible local arrangements or offered extra funding.

From 63 PCTs that responded to a Freedom of Information Act request, just four were committed to using the Direct Enhanced Service (DES) or a Local Enhanced Service (LES) based wholly on the interim DES guidance.

Up to 20 per cent of PCTs are offering more funding than the national DES package of £2.95 per patient. In these areas up to 97 per cent of practices were signed up to provide extended hours, like in Cornwall.

Mr Bradshaw was responding to a parliamentary question on how GP-led health centres would affect access in rural areas.

The health minister suggested the centres, which will open from 8am to 8pm, would force surrounding surgeries to open longer.

tom.ireland@haymarket.com

Extended hours DES 'redundant'

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