Practices pressurised to open longer without pay

Practices have been pressurised to open extended hours without payment, according to the GPC.

Dr Stewart Drage

PCTs are also using PMS contract reviews to work extended hours into contacts.

Current discussions between the GPC and NHS Employers may create a national or directed enhanced service to support GPs offering extended hours.  

GPC negotiator Dr Stewart Drage said: ‘We are concerned that practices don’t get bullied into extended hours just because the government wants it. Enhanced services should pay for the cost of opening later, which should be worked out by the practice.’

GPC chairman Laurence Buckman said: ‘This needs to be done as an extra contractual agreement because any practice that accepts this would pave the way for it to be integrated into GMS.’

Highland Medical Centre, in Fareham, Hampshire, opens until 8pm once a week for a ‘commuter clinic’ for no extra funds. Dr Donal Collins, a GP at the practice, said it felt under pressure from the government.

‘We were afraid of everyone saying no and someone like Boots doing it instead and taking our patients.

‘We decided to stop a vacuum being created that might be filled by someone else.

‘We know that extended hours opening is going to come in eventually. We decided to organise ourselves and get on and do it.’

GPC chairman Dr Laurence Buckman said there were local enhanced service deals but elsewhere practices were pressurised to open longer without extra payment. 

Dr Buckman said: ‘Where it is disadvantageous to patients or the practice, or where the LES is clearly not going to move to a national level, we don’t think practices should be taking part. They should not feel pressurised because PCT management have been pressurised by their SHAs to take part.’

He added that if any practice is feeling pressure to open extended hours, it should speak to its LMC.

The GPC also believes that £250 million has been set aside by the government to fund the 250 new health centres Lord Ara Darzi proposed and that all could be APMS.

Dr Buckman said: ‘The government is clearly not interested in PMS or GMS.’

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