GPs urged to bid for share of £100m to boost access

GP practices have been invited to bid for a share of £100m under plans to extend GP opening hours across England.

Access pilots to prioritise 8am to 8pm opening

Prime minister David Cameron revealed earlier this year that the government would invest £100m in a second wave of Challenge Fund pilots, as part of plans to spend £400m extending 8am to 8pm GP opening across the country by the end of the next parliament.

A total of 20 pilot areas received between £400,000 and £5m each under the first wave of Challenge Fund investment.

GPonline revealed earlier this year that many of the pilots had received guarantees of additional top-up funding worth millions of pounds more.

Read more: GPC warns pilots 'unsustainable'

NHS England says 4m patients will be benefiting from the programme by the end of October, rising to 5m by the end of the year.

Pilots are offering GP appointments between 8am to 8pm, Skype and email consultations and wider use of telecare and other technology.

Practices bidding for second-wave funding will need to work with peers to ‘develop proposals for improving and extending patient access to services’.

8am to 8pm priority

Priority will be given to plans ‘where practices are opening for longer such as 8am to 8pm weekdays and at weekends’, NHS England said.

Dr Nav Chana, co-chair of the National Association of Primary Care said: ‘We welcome opportunities for further funding of innovative approaches to accessing primary care services.

'There is a real need to test and evaluate how different models of care delivery can improve the health of our communities through working in collaborative networks, using technology better and developing a different skill mix within and across primary care teams. This funding gives an opportunity to evaluate at a much larger scale approaches that can enhance care to patients and our wider public.’

The GPC has warned the scheme is unsustainable.

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