New GP access regulations

On 15 May, the new access regulations come into force for GMS and PMS contract-holders.

These changes were imposed after GPC England roundly rejected NHSE’s proposals for the 2023/24 year.  During contract negotiations GPCE highlighted that this superficial approach to dealing with systemic problems ignores the issue throttling the access in the first place – workload and capacity in general practice.

GPC have developed guidance for practices to help them navigate this

The key change practices need to be aware of is that patients cannot be asked to call back another day; instead, patients must be offered an appointment, offered “appropriate advice or care”, signposted to a service or resource, asked to provide further information, or informed as to when they will receive further information about the services that may be provided (having regard to urgency of clinical needs and other relevant circumstances).

Some practices may have systems in place which mean they can meet this requirement. Some practices may not, and the guidance highlights options for practices to consider as dispositions when they are contacted by a patient and we would strongly advise practices review the guidance to see how they can best safely address this new requirement.

Do note that there is no timeframe stipulated as to when the further appointment or assessment must be offered and says “at a time which is appropriate and reasonable having regard to all the circumstances”. The updated IIF indicator and QOF do set the aim at 14 days and practices should discuss the plans their PCNs are formulating regarding the Capacity and Access element of the PCN DES as part of the wider access agenda.

We will produce further information regarding the PCN DES Capacity and Access Payment soon. The date for those PCN plans to be submitted to ICBs has been delayed from 12th May to 30th June 2023. This will allow PCNs and their practices longer to work with the ICB to agree supportive and realistic plans at a time when capacity and workforce in general practice is already under extreme pressure.


First Published
3 May 2023
Updated On
8 May 2024
Due to be Reviewed
6 June 2026
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