Welsh GPs handed flexible 'menu' of enhanced services

English GPs have the least favourable extended hours deal in the UK, after Wales joined Scotland and Northern Ireland in agreeing a more flexible option with similar pay.

The Welsh Assembly Government announced a deal last week that will allow GPs to choose from a menu of directed enhanced services (DESs).

The £16 million Welsh package will fund a range of additional services including Wales' extended hours DES, which will pay GPs £1.90 per patient.

Although the payment is lower than England and Scotland's £2.95 per patient, the Welsh DES allows concurrent working and only requires 20 extra minutes per 1,000 patients, not 30.

GPs and local health boards will select the most appropriate DESs for their area from a menu including care of patients with diabetes, the homeless, asylum seekers and refugees, and services for care home residents.

Welsh GPC chairman Dr David Bailey described the plans as 'a good deal for patients'.

'It will improve services for patients and takes a reasonable account of GPs' needs,' he said.

In Scotland, public health minister Shona Robison said local health boards would be re-approaching practices that originally did not sign up to offer extended hours.

Scottish GPC chairman Dr Dean Marshall said local health boards were offering greater flexibility after the media reacted badly to the fact that only half of practices had signed up.

Local health boards have dropped the requirement to operate extra hours according to patient need, allowing GPs to change which days they open extended hours.

In Northern Ireland, extended hours have been rejected in favour of a £2.7 million clinical DES package covering osteoporosis, peripheral arterial disease, and heart failure.

tom.ireland@haymarket.com

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