GPs in Wales will be able to maintain existing hours without losing funding.
Practices will be offered a 'basket' of direct enhanced services (DESs) to choose from, said GPC Wales chairman Dr David Bailey. The Welsh access DES will be discontinued and £5 million of funding will be invested into a menu of other services.
The other services have not been confirmed, but GPC Wales and the Welsh Assembly have discussed chronic disease management, sexual health, alcohol and obesity. Services to disadvantaged groups such as asylum seekers may also be included on the DES menu.
Practices will take up different DESs depending on their patients' needs, after discussion with their local health board, said Dr Bailey.
'There is little demand for extended hours in large parts of Wales,' he added.
The scheme is similar to a Scottish enhanced services model used in 2007/8, where health boards had to commission three services from a menu of nine. This will now end in Scotland because an extended hours DES similar to the English arrangement starts in April.
The Welsh extended hours DES is likely to be more flexible than in England. Practices will qualify for funds by participating in schemes to reduce use of out-of-hours and A&E services.
'We will not be prescriptive about how many hours are to be delivered,' said Dr Bailey in a letter to Welsh GPs explaining the DES.
A spokesman for the Welsh Assembly government said: 'We want to ensure that practices have the capacity to deliver full daytime services before embarking on wide-scale extended opening. This is likely to be provided where patients have indicated there is a demand.'
Practices in Northern Ireland will share £2.7 million funding for a new clinical DES instead of extended hours (GP, 14 March).
Possible Welsh DESs
- Chronic disease management.
- Sexual health.
- Disadvantaged users.
- Extended hours.
Source: GPC Wales