PCNs to deliver Extended Access from April 2022

Female GP shows male patient information on a sheet of paper during a consultation

In January 2021, NHS England and NHS Improvement deferred the introduction of new PCN service requirements until at least October 2021 - recognising the significant challenges experienced by these teams in the last 18 months.

Last month, NHS England further updated PCNs on the revised plans through to 2023, setting out gradual measures to introduce new service requirements to the sector.

In the letter, 5 areas of focus were outlined for PCNs for the next 18 months, with £43m of new funding provided to support them:

  1. Improving prevention and tackling health inequalities in the delivery of primary care
  2. Supporting better patient outcomes in the community through proactive primary care
  3. Supporting improved patient access to primary care services
  4. Delivering better outcomes for patients on medication
  5. Helping create a more sustainable NHS.

It was also outlined that PCNs will deliver a single, combined Extended Access offering from April 2022, with further details being published in the Autumn.

This means that GPs must be able to offer patients pre-bookable and same-day GP appointments in the evening (after 6.30pm) and at weekends. This also includes appointments during peak times of demand including bank holidays, Easter, Christmas and New Year periods.


2021/22 Deliverables

Deliverables for 2021/22 include two areas of focus for PCNs, which will be introduced in a reduced/preparatory form initially.

  • Cardiovascular disease (CVD) prevention and diagnosis - From October 2021, the requirements on PCNs will focus solely on improving hypertension case finding and diagnosis, where the largest undiagnosed prevalence gap remains and where the greatest reductions in premature mortality can be made.
  • Tackling neighbourhood health inequalities - PCNs will be asked to work from October 2021 to identify and engage a population experiencing health inequalities within their area, and to codesign an intervention to address the unmet needs of this population.

Since 2019, plans have focused heavily around the recruitment of additional doctors and primary care staff in order to deliver the coming requirements.


Managing staff for Extended Access

With the Extended Access rollout now in place, it is crucial that effective and appropriate technical support is in place so that the healthcare services are well equipped to adapt to the changing requirements.

Extended access services often rely on GPs and other staff to take on shifts in addition to the regular and contracted hours. With the recruitment of additional GPs, without a robust and organised system in place, it may prove difficult to gather availability and generate a fair roster.

To help ease the pressure on the workforce and streamline administration, GP Federations, hubs and localised services can use one system to manage GP’s shifts and maximise efficiency.

RotaMaster is specifically designed to help GP organisations create and manage their rosters with complete accuracy for the whole team. It enables the entire workforce, including receptionists, administrators, nurses GPs and locums to be managed efficiently without having to rely on cumbersome rota management system.

Healthcare services can manage staff across a number of sites with differing requirements and reduce the amount of time-consuming administration often involved. Many GP Federations who use the software bid for additional contracts safe in the knowledge that RotaMaster can easily accommodate the additional rosters involved.

Find out more about how RotaMaster can help with your GP rostering requirements, or to talk directly please call us on 01924 252360 or email enquiries@rotamaster.co.uk.