The NHS General Practice Forward View (GPFV) outlines a five-year plan to sustain and transform general practice. One of the national requirements it includes is for extended access primary care services to be available to all patients for both pre-bookable and same day appointments from 1 September 2018.
Under the Extended Hours Primary Care Services programme, there is a requirement for patients to be able to access 1½ hours additional appointments after 6.30pm each week day and an effective weekend service based on the local needs of the area. All practices must be able to direct patients to the service and offer a choice of evening or weekend appointments on an equal footing to core hours appointments.
The CCGs in Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent have reviewed the existing extended access pilots that were established with funding from the Prime Minister’s Challenge Fund and worked with Public Health to carry out a population needs assessment for the different localities across the six CCG areas. They have also been working with patients and the public to understand the need for and type of improved and extended access that would best meet local needs, particularly around shaping what the weekend provision might look like and to address any specific demographic requirements.
To deliver extended access primary care services that are equitable to all patients and sustainable, practices and GP federations are working collaboratively. This could mean that patients will be required to visit a nearby practice other than their own GP surgery. The clinicians delivering care to patients, even those registered with another practice, will be able to view the medical records of patients to ensure effective clinical care.
As part of the scheme, practices are coming together to transform the way primary care services are delivered over the next three years. Practices are continuing to develop their current workforce models so that patients are directed to the most appropriate healthcare professional to meet their needs at their first appointment. This is not always a GP and so practices are working towards involving other primary care professionals as part of the model. The additional capacity will also mean more time can be spent in practices to provide longer appointment for patients with more complex needs, such as frail and elderly people.
The Extended Hours Primary Care Service aims to respond to the needs of the local population in each area and respond to the feedback we received from our engagement with patients and the public. Your local GP surgery will be able to advise you on the arrangements for your own practice. To book an appointment, patients simply need to contact their own GP surgery.