Protected Learning Time- patient access to advice
Holding protected learning time (PLT) in practices is essential for quality development and education for all practice staff.
The GMS contract requires practices to
“ provide the services essential services at such times, within core hours, as are appropriate to meet the reasonable needs of its patients, and to have in place arrangements for its patients to access such services throughout the core hours in case of emergency…delivered in the manner determined by the practice in discussion with the patient”
When practices are engaging in PLT they should have in place arrangements for patients to still be able to access advice and treatment. These arrangements can be by sub-contracting to other services, or by having internal cover arrangements.
Both NHS England and the hospital trust have highlighted to the LMC that patients do not understand the arrangements that are in place during practice PLT. The LMC would encourage practices to advertise the arrangements that they have in place. This should be done on the practice website, in practice leaflets, in waiting rooms, and on telephone messages during PLT. It is also advisable for practices to regularly review the arrangements for PLT cover, to ensure that it is adequately meeting the needs of patients, and to discuss this Patient Participation Groups.