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GP practices can agree terms of May bank holiday opening locally, NHS England says

by Costanza Pearce
27 April 2020

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GP practice opening over the first May bank holiday will be agreed locally, NHS England has said.

Practices should expect to be open on Friday 8 May but will agree with their CCG what level of service and staff is required, NHS England said in a bulletin to GP practices.

However, bank holiday opening may also be agreed at a network level ‘as an alternative in view of anticipated demand’, it added.

The bulletin said: ‘Our key messages for you are to plan for [are] GP practices opening but agreeing with their CCG in advance if that level of the service is needed and the staff cover required. 

‘Network level cover may be agreed as an alternative in view of anticipated demand.’

Planned cover for out-of-hours, extended access and integrated urgent care are to be adjusted ‘as needed in response to GP practice opening’, it added.

NHS England added that bank holiday cover should reflect local experience of Easter opening.

The bulletin said: ‘Please use your experience of the Easter bank holidays to ensure you have the right level of cover needed for your area.’

The arrangements will be confirmed in more detail ‘early’ this week, the bulletin added.

It comes as NHS England deputy director for GP contracts Gabi Darby said in a live webinar last week that 98% of practices were open over the Easter bank holidays with around 63% ‘of the normal capacity’.

She told GPs that a ‘similar approach’ was anticipated for the May bank holiday, with them looking like ‘normal working days’.

She said: ‘We anticipate a similar approach for the May bank holiday taking place on Friday 8 May – so a normal working day, agree capacity in advance with the CCG and the only reason not to be open would be if an alternative has already been agreed with the CCG, for example, cross-cover within the network.’