GP practices asked to stay open on Good Friday and Easter Monday ‘if it is safe to do so’
GP practices are being asked to stay open on Good Friday and Easter Monday “if it is safe to do so” to help to alleviate pressures on out-of-hours services,
This is being backed by an extra £15m of funding from the Scottish Government to help ease pressures on GP practices.
Around a third of the funding is to cover the costs of Easter opening, while the rest will help to cover costs of equipment, additional non-clinical staff, GP partners and locum cover for sickness absences.
None of the money needs to be used for personal protective equipment (PPE), which is being provided separately to GP practices by the Scottish Government.
Health Secretary Jeane Freeman said: “I want to thank all GP practice staff for their incredible hard work throughout this pandemic.
“They are doing an invaluable job to keep crucial primary care services going in very challenging circumstances.
“Given the unprecedented situation we are in, I have taken the unusual step of asking GP practices to remain open on Good Friday and Easter Monday – but only if it is safe to do so.
“This will help to alleviate some pressure from out-of-hours services.
“Working with the Scottish GP Committee of BMA Scotland we have agreed a package of additional funding for GP practices to help them meet some of the costs of responding to COVID-19.
“Part of this will help to cover the cost of remaining open on Good Friday and Easter Monday and the remainder will help to meet other costs being faced by practices during this difficult time.”
Chair of the BMA’s Scottish GP Committee Dr Andrew Buist said: “This is an unprecedented time for all of us and asking GPs to keep their practices open over public holidays is not a request we have taken lightly.
“Practices and out of hours services are working under more pressure than ever during this pandemic and I know GPs across Scotland are willing to put in the extra work required to help the NHS fight this virus.
“Our NHS is changing, and at the forefront of that change is the primary care response.
“General practice is part of that protective ring around the hospital system that will help us all cope with the surge in demand we are expecting.
“I am extremely proud of how quickly GPs have responded to this challenge with flexibility and ingenuity.
“There is a huge amount of work being put in from the Scottish Government and across the system and now is the time for us to pull together, for clear thinking and strong leadership.”
There have now been 60 confirmed deaths in Scotland due to coronavirus, while 1,993 people have tested positive for the virus.