£250m access fund 'may pay GPs to extend hours'

Extended hours - Minister promises flexibility on funding practices and APMS contracts for new surgeries.

PCTs could be allowed to spend their share of the government's £250 million access fund on paying GPs to open later rather than building super-surgeries.

The fund was announced in October's comprehensive spending review and follows an interim report from health minister Lord Ara Darzi's review of the NHS, which called for improved access.

Although the money will fund 100 new surgeries in under-doctored areas as well as 150 walk-in centres, health minister Ben Bradshaw has indicated that where PCTs think this is not necessary the money could be spent on other areas to improve access, such as extended hours.

Speaking at a meeting of the All Party Parliamentary Group for primary care and public health in London last week, Mr Bradshaw said: 'I don't think we should be completely prescriptive about one health centre per PCT. If PCTs can make a good case then we will discuss what they might need instead.'

GPC negotiator Dr Richard Vautrey, who raised the issue at the meeting, said afterwards: 'This gives me optimism that there will be some flexibility and that there are ways to improve access other than building a walk-in centre or new surgery. It makes sense to use this to fund extended opening hours.

'I still treat the comments with caution and want to see more detail and assurances from the government. Apart from these comments the tone until now has still been very prescriptive.'

Last week a GP survey found that 62.7 per cent of GPs would open surgeries for longer if funded.

Some PCTs are already funding extended hours through local enhanced service schemes.

A four-month pilot in Sunderland is offering £133 per hour for a staff of one doctor, one nurse and two reception staff to work for an extra two hours in the evening.

Sheffield PCT is also running a similar pilot scheme, providing a one-off payment of £500 for practices to open for an extra two hours a week.

Wandsworth PCT offers £96 per hour.

What is your PCT proposing to do about extended hours? Contact tom.ireland@haymarket.com with details.

Have you registered with us yet?

Register now to enjoy more articles and free email bulletins


Already registered?

Sign in

Just published

GP consultation

GP practices delivering 150,000 extra appointments per day compared with 2019

GP practices in England delivered 150,000 more appointments per working day in the...

Surgeon looking at a monitor in an operating theatre

NICE recommends non-invasive surgical procedure to target obesity

NICE has said that a non-invasive weight loss procedure should be used by the NHS...

GP trainee

Two training posts deliver one full-time GP on average, report warns

Two training posts are needed on average to deliver a single fully-qualified, full-time...

Dr Fiona Day

How to flourish as a GP by learning from the good and the difficult

Leadership and career coach Dr Fiona Day explains how GPs can grow and develop from...

Unhappy older woman sitting at home alone

Low mood – red flag symptoms

Low mood is a common presentation in primary care and can be a sign of a mental health...


PCN to take on GMS practice contract in landmark move for general practice

A GP practice in Hertfordshire could become the first to be run directly by a PCN...