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NHS England details GP practice opening requirements over Easter

by Sofia Lind
8 April 2020

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NHS England has confirmed that GP practices will be required to open during core hours on both Good Friday (10 April) and Easter Monday (13 April).

In a news bulletin to practices sent last night, NHS England apologised for the information being given to GPs at such a late stage.

The email, from medical director for primary care Dr Nikki Kanani and deputy director for GP contracts Gabi Darby said this comes as Covid-19 demands are ‘anticipated to be at their highest so far in many areas’ this weekend.

‘We have previously asked for primary care to align with the rest of the NHS, and to treat the Easter bank holiday as a normal working day. This will be no normal weekend, as you will have anticipated,’ the message said.

They added that this will mean all GP practices openingin core hours, with the exception of alternative arrangements agreed in advance with the CCG.

NHS England said this could be demand being met via PCN arrangements, but stressed that ‘transferring calls to NHS 111 will not be an option’.

GP practices will be expected to provide remote triage for ‘delivering care and treatment wherever possible and appropriate’; and ‘proactive clinical management support’ for patients identified at highest risk from Covid-19 who have been advised to shield.

GPs will also need to continue ‘any essential face-to-face services (including home visits) that may be required’. 

The bulletin said: ‘We are sorry to be sending this information so close the bank holiday weekend but hope the details below will help you to finalise your arrangements.’

It added: ‘We recognise that this short notice change presents challenges for you and your staff (including childcare difficulties, although you may wish to check if schools/nurseries for key workers in your areas are available as usual).

‘Practices should discuss with their local CCG the level of service required on the bank holiday, and agree what staff cover is needed.’

NHS England has previously stated GPs will get reimbursed in full for their costs relating to the extra opening.

The bulletin said: ‘GP practices open on Good Friday or Easter Monday will be able to seek reimbursement for additional staffing costs. Further costs incurred as a result of the pandemic will be addressed in due course.’