Enhanced Access services at GP Practices: What Does It Mean?

The way GP services are provided on evenings, weekends and bank holidays is changing.

From 1 October 2022, appointments will be made available outside of normal practice hours, usually 8am to 6:30pm on weekdays, via two ‘enhanced access’ services.

The change means that some patients will access appointments differently, such as how they book them and where they might go to be seen.

1. Extended Access Hubs:

These will offer access to appointments on weekday evenings 6.30pm-8pm, and weekends and bank holidays 8am-8pm. Extended Access Hubs will also offer pre-bookable and ‘on the day’ appointments, and NHS 111 can also book patients in.

2. Extended Hours Access:

‘Extended hours’ to core practice opening hours will provide additional early morning, evening and weekend sessions. These will include emergency, same day and pre-bookable appointments.

So, what will change and what will stay the same:

Things that won’t change are:

  • The overall number of hours that need to be provided for patients.
  • The hub locations, for face-to-face appointments, still need to be convenient to patients.
  • The type of appointment – a mixture of face-to-face and remote (telephone, video, online) appointment – will be available together with the ability to pre-book appointments and book on the same day.
  • Appointments will continue to be available with GPs and Practice Nurses in addition to other healthcare roles.

Things that will be different are:

  • The hours of operation – the change does not include any requirement for services to be provided on a Saturday evening between 5pm–8pm or on Sundays and bank holidays. The provision will be Monday-Saturday only.
  • More focus on appointments that can be booked in advance. This means pre-bookable appointments are available for patients and can include ‘planned care’ appointments, (i.e., regular monitoring of a patient’s long-term condition, immunisations, or screenings).
  • PCNs now need to ensure that all practices and the PCN have the ability to book and cancel appointments, make referrals and request tests, and view and update patients’ records.
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