General practices can now bid for part of the £100 million Prime Minister’s Challenge Fund, to improve access for patients.
From today, practices will be eligible to bid by developing proposals with peers to extend patient access to services locally.
NHS England revealed that practices opening 8-8 weekdays and at weekends will be given priority for the funding.
Application forms should be submitted to area teams to consider, before a national assessment panel makes the final choice. Bids need to serve a minimum population of 30,000.
Dr Mike Bewick, NHS England’s deputy medical director said: “The current 20 pilots have had a positive impact in providing patients with better, wide-ranging access to their GP as well as more choice about when and how they see them.
“Our vision for primary care is to see GPs and primary care colleagues play an even stronger role in the heart of local communities, offering more joined up, high quality services and keeping people out of hospital.”
The pilots were launched in April as part of a £50 million fund announced by Prime Minister, David Cameron.
They were awarded sums ranging from £400k to £5m. A wide variety of ideas are now being trialled including 8am-8pm working, better use of telecare and health apps, access to appointments through e-mail and Skype, and greater flexibility with face-to-face access.
Dr Nav Chana, co-chair of the National Association of Primary Care (NAPC), said: “We welcome opportunities for further funding of innovative approaches to accessing primary care services. There is a real need to test and evaluate how different models of care delivery can improve the health of our communities through working in collaborative networks, using technology better and developing a different skill mix within and across primary care teams. This funding gives an opportunity to evaluate at a much larger scale approaches that can enhance care to patients and our wider public.”
NHS England is overseeing the pilots that, as with wave one, will be part of a 12-month national development and evaluation programme.
Alongside the wave one pilots, NHS England has established an “associate network” to the Challenge Fund to link around 24 of the other innovative bids within their region and nationally to share learning.