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The Government is committed to improving access to general practitioner (GP) services. By 2020, everyone will be able to access routine GP appointments at evenings and weekends.
On 21 April 2016, NHS England published the GP Forward View, a package of support to help get general practice back on its feet, improve patient care and access, and invest in new ways of providing primary care. The GP Forward View sets out that we are investing an extra £2.4 billion a year for general practice services by 2020/21 – this represents a 14% increase in real terms. The overall investment for general practice includes a £500 million national 'turnaround' package to support GP practices.
To implement the Government’s commitment to transform GP access, £175 million has been invested in the GP Access Fund to test improved and innovative access to GP services. Across the two waves of the Access Fund, there are 57 schemes covering over 2,500 practices and 18 million patients – a third of the population – have benefited from improved access and transformational change at local level including evening and weekend appointments.
A wide variety of approaches are being tested through the Access Fund, including: 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; and developing more integrated services with a single point of contact to co-ordinate patient services.
In addition to the GP Access Fund, all GP practices have been given the opportunity to provide extended hours access under the Directed Enhanced Service.
The Government is also committed to having an extra 5,000 doctors working in general practice by 2020/21, as well as 5,000 extra other staff, for example clinical pharmacists and mental health therapists.