GP practices will be asked to open up on Easter Saturday morning for routine appointments as part of “resilience” plans for the NHS over the Bank Holiday weekend.
NHS England wrote to all clinical commissioning groups (CCGs) to “reinforce the importance” of producing ‘robust demand and capacity plans’ over the Easter weekend, with “emphasis specifically on… routine GP surgery capacity on the Saturday morning on the Bank Holiday weekend”.
The letter – which was also signed by Monitor, the Trust Development Authority and directors of adult social services – said there needed to be “continuing operational resilience” even after the winter period because A&E standards were not being met.
The letter was sent to all CCG accountable officers and chief executives of hospital trusts, and set out a range of plans that health authorities should be in place.
It said: “We are writing to you as we reach the end of winter and look ahead to continuing operational resilience through the next holiday period and into 2015/16. Over recent months we have seen a decline in our delivery against the four hour A&E standard… We expect every effort to be made to return to this standard in April.”
It added: “For this public holiday in particular… (we) would like to reinforce the importance of all organisations producing robust demand and capacity plans for the Easter period.”
The letter listed particular areas that should be emphasised, including: “Routine GP surgery capacity on the Saturday morning on the Bank Holiday weekend; sufficient capacity provided in GP OOH services; NHS 111 staffing capacity increases to cope with potential surges in demand; sufficient capacity across primary care (including pharmacy and dentistry).”