All practices are currently offered the opportunity to provide extended hours access, i.e. appointments outside of 8am-6.30pm weekdays, under a Directed Enhanced Service.
In 2013/14 over 70% of general practitioner (GP) practices were recorded as taking part in the extended hours scheme meaning patients can access a GP outside core hours at a time that is more convenient for them (source: Health and Social Care Information Centre report ‘NHS Payments to General Practice, England, 2013-14’, published February 2015).
As part of a separate scheme, over 1,100 practices are participating in the Prime Minister’s Challenge Fund looking at innovative ways of improving access to over 7.5 million patients and stimulating innovative ways of providing primary care services. More pilots will run in 2015/16 benefiting millions more patients.
The pilots are testing a variety of approaches, ranging from opening 8am-8pm on weekdays and weekends; better use of telecare and health apps; more innovative ways to access services by video call, email or telephone, to developing more integrated services with a single point of contact to co-ordinate patient services across health and social care.