NHS England aims to have GP walk-in triage services in all hospital A&Es by next Christmas to address increasing demand, according to chief executive Simon Stevens.
Funding of £100 million has been made available to support the initiative which was discussed at a recent House of Commons Public Accounts Committee inquiry into GP access.
In the meeting Stevens also stated that by next March it is intended that “half the country” will be covered by GPs “who are able to offer evening and weekend bookable appointments” and this will be expanded to the whole of the country by March 2019.
But Professor Helen Stokes-Lampard, chair of the Royal College of GPs, has warned against imposing services: "We’re pleased that Simon Stevens recognises that nearly 90 per cent of GP practices are already offering some form of extended access for patients, as this is often overlooked. However, it remains important that the services we do provide are not imposed, but are based on local need.
"We have a chronic shortage of GPs and if we are siphoned off to do triage in emergency departments or required to keep open our surgeries for longer, it will inevitably have a serious knock-on effect on the routine care and services we can provide to our patients."