More than 7.5 million people will be offered increased access to GP services in England through seven-day opening and 8am-8pm appointments.
Close to 1,150 practices in England will benefit from the Prime Minister's £50 million GP access fund.
The fund was initially expected to help 500,000 people across England, but has been expanded because of high levels of interest from practices.
Around 800,000 people with complex needs will also be given a named GP to provide individual care plans and same-day GP access when needed.
The fund will be used for increasing use of Skype, email and phone consultations, as well as extra services.
The Prime Minister, David Cameron (pictured), said: “Back in October, I said I wanted to make it easier for people to get appointments that fit in around a busy working week and family commitments.
“There has been a great response from doctors, with lots of innovative ideas, and we will now see over seven million patients given weekend and evening opening hours, alongside more access to their family doctor on the phone, via email or even Skype. This is an important step and good news for patients.”
Simon Stevens, chief executive of NHS England said: “By freeing up hard working family doctors to spend more time with their sickest patients, and by making it easier for other patients to get through to their GP surgery for help and advice at evenings and weekends, these initiatives have the potential to be a win-win-win for patients, their doctors and the NHS.”
Other GP services that will be rolled out from May into next year include:
- Electronic prescriptions and online booking of appointments.
- Easier, on-line registration and choice of practice.
- Joining-up of urgent care and out-of-hours care to ensure rapid walk-in access to care.
- Greater flexibility about how people access general practice, for instance with the option to visit a number of GP surgery sites in their area.
- Better access to ‘telecare’ to help sick people stay comfortable at home, as well as to healthy living apps.
Dr Chaand Nagpaul, chair of the British Medical Association’s GP committee, said: "GPs want the best possible care for their most vulnerable and frail patients, which includes avoiding the distress of a preventable hospital admission.
“However, these changes will need to be properly supported. The government must take further action so that community, social and urgent care work in tandem to deliver truly holistic care to patients.
"Ministers must also deliver on their commitment to increase resources in the community so that there are more GPs, nurses and other health and social care services to provide coordinated care to the escalating number of patients who need care closer to home. This will enable GPs to be properly supported and have the time and ability to deliver the personalised care that patients deserve.”
The 20 successful pilot schemes are:
Better Access, Better Care, Better Standards (North, Central and East London) – £5,608,550
Transforming Access to General Practice (North West London) – £5,000,000
Extending Access to Primary Care (Southwark) – £975,278
Moving Primary Care to a Population Wellbeing Approach (West Wakefield) – £1,436,663
Opening Doors (Morecambe)- £1,137,132
Easy GP Project (Bury) – £2,779,000
Together as One Community (Hambleton, Richmondshire, Whitby) – £2,481,000
Primary Care Home (Warrington)’ – £3,291,157
Better Together (Workington) – £511,292
Caring for Darlington Beyond Tomorrow – £448,400
Extended Primary Integrated Care (Brighton and Hove) – £1,871,149
Integrated South Kent Coast (Folkestone and Dover) – £1,894,267
One Care Consortium (Bristol) – £2,900,000
Steps to the Future (Slough) – £2,950,000
Shaping Services to Meet Community Needs (Devon, Cornwall and Isles of Scilly) – £3,575,000
Midlands and East
Improving Access, Supporting Primary Care Integration and Whole System Change (Herefordshire) – £2,663,206
Transforming General Practice (Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire) – £5,252,463
Transformational Innovations for Primary Care (Watford ) – £794,620
Health United (Birmingham) – £997,216
Transforming the Access Experience At Scale Across England (Care UK) – £960,000