New access requirements

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The main new requirement states that “patients should be offered an assessment of need, or signposted to an appropriate service, at first contact with the practice”. 

Update, 13 June 2023: we have now produced this video presentation which explains how these requirements affect practices.

The new access requirements took effect on Monday 15 May, following their imposition by the Government using statutory Regulations

The BMA believes that these requirements are not achievable for many practices with current resource and workforce, and that practices who attempt to achieve the requirements may do so at the expense of clinician wellbeing and patient safety. 

As a consequence, the BMA has issued clear guidance on practice’s contractual obligations to be accessible to patients and what they can do if challenged by commissioners. All GPs and practice managers should read this guidance which includes GPC England’s view that practices should “protect patients and clinical staff from [decision fatigue, clinical errors and patient harm, and clinician burn out] by limiting clinical contacts to no more than 25 per day for each GP, and any excess demand beyond this being signposted to other settings such as 111, overflow hubs, or urgent treatment centres. 

Dr Michelle Drage, our CEO, has written to all five London ICBs seeking confirmation that a list of all wider commissioned services will be accessible to all GPs and practice teams on the Directory of Services. And that practices are provided with the contact details to whom patients can directly complain should they experience a breach in the provision of the service to which they were referred or signposted by the practice under these new Regulations in good time before they come into effect. 

Whilst we await their replies, practices may be interested in this helpful summary of the new access requirements, which was created by LMC colleagues in Berkshire, Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire.