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NHS England insists practices do not close early on Christmas Eve

LMCs pledge to support practices that close early on Christmas and New Year’s Eve

Ingrid Torjesen

Thursday, 19 December 2013

LMCs have pledged to support practices that choose not to remain open throughout core hours over the Christmas period.

In a change to usual practice NHS England is insisting that practices remain open throughout core hours of 8am to 6.30pm during the Christmas period, including on both Christmas and New Year’s Eve.

Londonwide LMCs has issued guidance to practices saying that it believes that NHS England’s position “is wrong under the contract regulations and is unjustifiable”, pledging to support any practice that decide to go against NHS England’s directive to provide a full service on Christmas and New Year’s Eve.

Under the GP contract practices are required to ensure provision of essential services within core hours “as are appropriate to meet the reasonable needs” of patients. NHS England has made clear it believes closing early during the Christmas period would not be “reasonable” because it would put additional pressure on already busy out-of-hours providers and A&E.

“While practices wishing to avoid putting themselves at risk of potential contractual action may decide to comply with NHS England’s requirements, other practices may decide not to provide a full service on Christmas and New Year’s Eve, for example because they want to avoid wasting staff and practice/NHS resources.

“In the latter case, practices must ensure they follow the requirements of the contract regulations and the GPC advice. If these practices are subsequently issued with a breach notice by NHS England, they will be fully supported by Londonwide LMCs and the GPC,” the guidance says.

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