GPs To Get Extra Support This Winter

Winter is a tough time for GP surgeries. The influx of colds, flu and other illnesses and viruses often mean that waiting times are long and doctors’ appointment books are filled to the brim. With doctors already facing growing pressures, an announcement by the NHS to provide an extra £10 million to help GPs get extra support this winter, could help ease some of the issues experienced at this time of year by doctors.

Winter and the healthcare service

Last year was a particularly tough winter for the NHS. A higher rate of flu admissions meant hospitals were stretched, and GPs faced endless hours making their way through patients filling up waiting rooms. Labelled ‘the NHS winter crisis’, a joint panel was set up (the National Emergency Pressures Panel) to help the NHS better respond to the additional pressures brought on by winter.

This year, there’s a strong focus on winter resilience to help ensure the healthcare industry can cope with the coming months. Can the latest support offered by the NHS give doctors the protection they need this winter?

GPs to get extra support through the Winter Indemnity Scheme

The proposed Winter Indemnity Scheme will provide an extra £10 million of support to GPs, allowing them to cope with winter demand as seasonal pressures grow. The scheme means that doctors won’t have to pay extra for their professional indemnity cover, and will therefore be able to work extended hours, out of hours as well as additional shifts to help meet growing patient demand.

In previous years, it’s the cost of the additional indemnity that has held GPs back from providing additional services. The scheme ensures that doctors can carry out their professional duties and help give patients better access to care.

The winter indemnity scheme is not a new one, having been started in winter 2015-16, however, the investment has increased following a particularly tough winter last year. The NHS has said it will be monitoring the uptake from GP practices, NHS 111, out of hours as well as urgent care services.

Good news for out of hours

The news has been welcomed by GPs, and means that out of hours surgeries which have been crying out for GPs to fill shifts now stand a better chance of being able to meet patient demand over the coming months. Many GPs are put off working out of hours because of concerns over indemnity, but this new funding boost should help more doctors experience out of hours working.

The scheme will run from 1 October until 31 March 2019, with GPs to receive extra support throughout the period to cover the typical winter flu season.

Now is the perfect opportunity for GPs wanting to experience out of hours working. It can present new and different challenges to a typical day at a GP practice, as well as help GPs enjoy different shift patterns that can aid with work/life balance. If you’re interested in out of hours work in the East Berkshire area, check out our jobs pages for more information.