From October 1st, 2022 all GP practices in England will have to open on Saturday’s in order to make it easier for patients to get appointments, family doctors will have to offer face-to-face consultations until 8pm Monday to Friday that is also included in the new NHS contract. Under the new NHS contract patients will also be able to access nurses, pharmacists and physiotherapists at more convenient times. The staff should offer a range of ‘routine’ services such as various health screening programmes, vaccinations and general health checks. GP’s will have to begin offering appointments from 6:30pm until 8pm on weekdays and 9am until 5pm on Saturday’s.
The new contract was agreed in 2019 but the implementation of the contract was delayed due to Covid pandemic. GP’s received letters from the NHS England asking them to submit plans on how they will offer weekday evening and weekend services by July 2022. GP practices will also be allowed to offer Sunday morning if this is in line with their local patient needs and agreed with regional directors.
The letter that GP’s received said: “The new enhanced access arrangements aim to remove variability across the country and improve patient understanding of the service. The new offer is based on primary care networks providing bookable appointments outside core hours within the enhanced access period of 6:30pm until 8pm weekday evenings and 9am until 5pm on Saturday’s, utilising the full multi-disciplinary team, and offering a range of general practice services, including ‘routine’ services such as screening, vaccinations and health checks, in line with patient preference and need.”