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19 Sep 2016
GP Practices and the seven-day weekIndustry News
Back in 2014, the publication of the ‘Five Year Forward View’ set out plans for a seven-day NHS Service to be delivered by 2020. But in practicality, what does it mean for our GP Practices?
After the 2015 General election David Cameron tasked Jeremy Hunt and his team with overcoming the challenges of evolving the NHS to support people living longer and coping with more complex health conditions.
One of the big calls was for GP Practices to run from 8am-8pm 7 days a week. This would ensure that patients could see their GP’s at times that suit their working lives and at weekends, the practices could act as a buffer for our overstretched A&E and Urgent Care hospital departments.
But as the reality of what this actually looks like begins to sink in, people are starting to question the viability of the plans.
PLOS Medicine recently published research into a pilot scheme that was run in Manchester in 2014. Although it showed a reduction in A&E patient numbers during the pilot, there were some question marks raised about the financial feasibility.
The scheme shows that funding of £3.1m across 56 GP practices generated savings in hospitals worth just £767,976. The patient uptake of extended hour appointments also raises question marks. Only 50% of available Saturday appointments, and only 1 in 10 available Sunday appointments were booked. This has led to a number of people questioning whether or not funds would be better spent within A & E Departments.
In a further blow to plans, a number of prominent GPs and Scientists have written an open letter to Theresa May calling for an independent inquiry into the process behind the polices.
It’s unclear at this point if these plans will change or go ahead, but the chances are, that whatever happens it won’t happen for some years. NHS Providers have advised that the ‘Five Year Forward View’ could take an additional decade to roll out.