GPs in England’s primary care networks (PCNs) will be required to open from 9am to 5pm on Saturdays from October under new enhanced access arrangements.
The plans were revealed today as part of the GP contract updates for 2022/23, which include changes to both the core GP Contract and the Network Contract DES.
They will require GPs to provide ‘a range of general practice services’, including ‘routine’ services ‘in line with patient preference and need’.
In a letter to practices, NHS England said: ‘The new offer is based on PCNs providing bookable appointments outside core hours within the Enhanced Access period of 6.30pm-8pm weekday evenings and 9am-5pm on Saturdays, utilising the full multi-disciplinary team, and offering a range of general practice services, including “routine” services such as screening, vaccinations and health checks, in line with patient preference and need.
‘PCNs will be able to provide a proportion of Enhanced Access outside of these hours, for example early morning or on a Sunday, where this is in line with patient need locally and it is agreed with the commissioner. ‘
The new ‘enhanced access’ arrangements aim to ‘remove variability across the country and improve patient understanding of the service’, it added.
NHS England announced in August that PCNs would deliver a ‘single, combined extended access offer’ funded through the network DES from April 2022, with further details to be published in the autumn.
It said at the time that the extended access requirements would be included within the 2022/23 DES which would be published ‘later [in the] financial year’.
However, the scheme’s launch was delayed for the second time until October 2022.
In the letter sent to practices today, NHS England confirmed that the new ‘enhanced’ access offer will bring together the current £1.44 per head Network Contract DES extended hours funding and the current £6 per head CCG-commissioned extended access services – into the PCN DES.
Delivery will start from October 2022, with ‘preparatory work from next month, it said.
However, it remains unclear how much GPs will be funded for the service.
It comes as a BMA GP Committee negotiator has suggested that the 2022/23 changes to the GP contract are imposed.
More to follow
This story firstappeared on our sister title, Pulse.