NHS England to offer enhanced access to GP practices, including evenings and Saturday openings

Primary care networks in England need to prepare now so they are ready to offer patients a new ‘enhanced access’ model of care, which will see GP practices open from 9am-5pm on Saturdays from October 2022.


FCP Roadmap

NHS England and NHS Improvement announced the enhanced access plans in a letter, outlining General practice contract arrangements in 2022/23, which was published on 1 March and sent to all GP practices in England and Primary Care Network clinical directors.

The letter states that:

From 1 October 2022, Primary Care Networks will be required to provide Enhanced Access between the hours of 6.30pm and 8pm Mondays to Fridays and between 9am and 5pm on Saturdays

It goes on to explain that these enhanced access arrangements aim to remove variability across the country and are designed to improve patients understanding of, and access to, available services.

In addition, the letters stipulates that the enhanced access hours that are offered to patients should utilise ‘the full multidisciplinary team, and offer a range of general practice services, including “routine” services such as screening, vaccinations and health checks, in line with patient preference and need.’

And that the enhanced access hours should be ‘delivered by a multidisciplinary team of healthcare professionals, including GPs, nurses and the Additional Roles Reimbursement Scheme (ARRS) workforce.’

Implications for First Contact Physiotherapists

The enhanced access model may have implications for first contact physiotherapists (FCPs) who work as part of multidisciplinary teams within primary care networks and GP practices.

Commenting on the new plans, Abigail Henderson, CSP’s head of FCP implementation, said:

Service leads and FCPs need to be aware of these changes to the GP contract

'They should be involved in early conversations during the planning phase to discuss any impact on their staff or services.  We will monitor the situation closely and remain available to anyone needing guidance and support.’

Start preparing now to deliver enhanced access plans

The letter advises all Primary Care Networks to start preparing, from April 2022, so that they are ready to deliver enhanced access to patients from 1 October 2022.

In order to achieve this, it states that:

‘Primary Care Networks must work with their commissioner to produce and agree an Enhanced Access Plan. This Plan will need to set out how the PCN is planning to deliver Enhanced Access from October.’

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