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Use surplus to fund extended hours, says NHS Alliance

The NHS Alliance has suggested using this year's NHS surplus to support extended access by making extra facilities available during GP surgery hours - including funding practice nurses.

The Alliance says that the predicted £1.8bn surplus could ensure that extended hours does not become a "tokenistic" exercise, by helping fund the full primary care team to work additional hours.

NHS Alliance chairman Dr Michael Dixon said: "We have an extraordinary opportunity to provide improvements patients want and need. A significant part of the NHS surplus should be released to support extended access."

The Alliance says that while GPs will offer evening or Saturday morning surgeries, facilities they and their patients depend on may not be available, eg, blood test analysis, diagnostic services and Choose and Book.

In a statement, the NHS primary care organisation said: "General practice is now a team affair. It is not just the GP who matters, but practice and specialist nurses, increasingly practice physiotherapists, counsellors and other clinicians.

"The new extended hours agreement applies only to doctors. Part of the surplus could be used to support extended hours for the full primary care team, benefiting all those patients who need the services of clinicians other than doctors."

Dr Dixon added: "At the same time, the health service must now make sure that PCTs and GP practices are allowed to make their own decisions, in the light of local circumstances and local need, as to how the new arrangements are implemented.

"There is no 'one size fits all' solution to access and we should not pretend there is," he said.

NHS Alliance

Related story: NHS forecasts 2008 surplus

Your comments: (Terms and conditions apply)

"I would like to know what the NHS plans to 'DO' with a £1.8 bn surplus. At a time when Trust finances are squeezed so tightly to make preset savings. Many Trusts are still in high overspend situations due to escalating demands on the services, increased throughput and DOH set targets. It is to my mind iniquitous that there should be some sense of 'pride' in this money being 'surplus'. I mean, surplus to what exactly? Certainly NOT requirement!!" - James A Bremner, NHS Highland

"Part of the NHS surplus should be used to fund health research and support life saving drugs and medical/surgical intervention for the existing needs of ill patients. Providing extended hours in my opinion will only contribute to the further abuse of the already abused existing system. A personal view." - V Henry, London