RCGP calls for clear guidance on core hours closing under 2017/18 GP contract

The RCGP has called for clear guidance for practices on when they will be allowed to close during core hours after details of the GP contract for 2017/18 were announced.

RCGP chair Professor Helen Stokes-Lampard (Photo: Pete Hill)
RCGP chair Professor Helen Stokes-Lampard (Photo: Pete Hill)

The 2017/18 deal says that from October practices will have to remain open during core hours or risk ineligibility for payments under the extended hours DES.

GPC guidance said that there may be exceptions, such as for small rural practices and for monthly staff training. 

Practices will also be eligible for extra funds in return for collaborating to provide additional appointments outside of core hours.

RCGP chair Professor Helen Stokes-Lampard warned that the deal must not be seen as a lever to force practices to compromise patient safety and GP welfare by opening at impractical or unrealistic times.

‘Smaller practices might need to close temporarily to allow GPs to make home visits, for example, or for their teams to undertake mandatory training,' she said. ‘We need to see very clear guidance about when closing practices temporarily during core hours is acceptable – as sometimes there will be no alternative.’

The college leader said the new contract would provide certainty for the year ahead and thanked GPC for their efforts in negotiating the deal for the profession.

GPs would welcome CQC reimbursement and indemnity support, she said.

Identifying overseas patients

Professor Stokes-Lampard, who last week warned politicians against making GPs act as border guards by identifying overseas patients for NHS charging, said the new contractual requirement requiring practices to determine patients' eligibility for NHS care was a ‘straightforward exercise’ that should not be a significant burden.

‘The college has been outspoken about the role of GP teams in charging overseas patients for care – but we have also said that where appropriate the NHS should be able to claim back money from the countries of those patients who use NHS services.

'The plans to introduce self declaration by patients at the point of registration is a straightforward exercise that should not be a significant administrative burden for GP teams, and should not deter patients from accessing care when they need it.

‘All in all, the contract should be encouraging news for GPs and our patients, but the changes certainly aren’t a cure for the intense pressures currently facing our profession. We need the pledges made in NHS England’s GP Forward View – for £2.4bn extra a year for general practice and 5,000 more GPs by 2020 – to be implemented in full as a matter of urgency, so that we can continue to provide the care our patients need in a way that is safe for both them, GPs and our teams.’

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