Non-NHS work barred in extended hours

Exclusive - The DoH confirms that practices should only provide standard consultations.

Vaccinations like flu jabs may no longer be available in extended hours
Vaccinations like flu jabs may no longer be available in extended hours

GPs may be breaching their contracts by offering flu jabs and travel vaccinations to patients in extended hours, GP can reveal.

The DoH has confirmed that practices are barred from providing non-NHS services in extended hours.

As a result, GPs may no longer be able to offer services that have proven hugely popular with patients outside of the normal working day.

The DoH ruling has created confusion, with some PCTs interpreting it to mean that no treatment offered under an enhanced service deal is permitted in extended hours.

In Wakefield, West Yorkshire, GPs are forbidden from offering flu jabs to patients during extended hours.

A spokeswoman for Wakefield PCT said: 'These appointments are for registered patients to consult with their GP and are not for the delivery of "enhanced services", for which the practice is paid separately.'

Respondents to a recent survey by GP's sister magazine, Independent Nurse, said travel vaccinations were especially popular during extended hours.

GPC negotiator Dr Chaand Nagpaul said extended hours clinics should extend the service patients expect during the daytime.

'I would hope PCTs will be sensible about this. Flu jabs are part of a normal service.

'Clearly extended hours consultations should reflect the types of consultations that GPs provide during normal in-hours services,' he said.

Dr Nagpaul said GPs could provide services that are private, like insurance medicals, in parallel to extended hours clinics.

The final DoH guidance on extended hours, released this month, confirms PCTs must also alter any local enhanced services (LESs) so that they are similar to the nationally set directed enhanced service.

'It is a shame the DoH and SHAs have intervened and U-turned successful local arrangements,' said Dr Nagpaul. 'It makes the concept of a LES meaningless.'

Latest figures show the government has nearly reached its target of pushing 50 per cent of practices to open evenings and weekends.

However, there were still 16 PCTs where no practices were offering extended hours.

tom.ireland@haymarket.com

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