No plans for most GPs to open over August bank holiday, NHS England confirms

GP practices will not be asked to work over the August bank holiday unless they are subject to lockdown rules or specific local commissioning arrangements, NHS England has confirmed.

(Photo: Chris McLoughlin/Getty Images)
(Photo: Chris McLoughlin/Getty Images)

Practices were asked to stay open over the Easter bank holidays on 10 and 13 April and in some areas on 8 May in response to the coronavirus outbreak.

Details on how practices would be compensated for working through the bank holidays were announced last week, including pay rates for locums.

However, a primary care bulletin from NHS England medical director for primary care Dr Nikki Kanani and director for primary care strategy Ed Waller informed practices that they would not need to open on 31 August.

Practice opening

They said: ‘August bank holiday is rapidly approaching - we do not anticipate primary care will need to offer additional services over this period unless under a specific local lockdown or local arrangement which has been agreed with the local commissioner.’

NHS England was previously criticised for being too slow to inform practices about bank holiday opening requirements.

Infection rates in England have dropped dramatically since May, with 606 COVID-19 cases recorded on 8 August. At the peak of the pandemic in April the number of daily cases reached just under 4,800.

Despite the fall in COVID-19 infections GPs have reported a sharp rise in workload - increasing to pre-pandemic levels. Figures from NHS Digital show that GP practices delivered 21.3m appointments in June 2020 - 28% more than the 16.6m recorded in April.

GP practices have also been instructed to increase activity, 'make rapid progress' on childhood immunisation and cervical screening backlogs as part of the NHS' third-phase response to COVID-19.

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