The NHS has announced new plans to improve patient access to GP appointments, while also offering further support for GPs and their teams.

The blueprint plans, published by the NHS following close collaboration with the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC), include measures to provide extra funding for GP surgeries to increase capacity for face-to-face appointments.

The measures, which include a £250m ‘winter access fund’ from NHS England, will aim to ensure GP practices can improve availability for patients who need care.

This funding will go toward investment for locums and support from additional healthcare professionals in a bid to increase capacity to ‘boost urgent same-day care’.

Also as part of the plan, the NHS is set to support upgrades to telephone systems and aim to reduce administrative burdens on GPs by reforming who can provide medical evidence and certificates such as FIT notes and DVLA checks.

“Improving access to high quality general practice is essential for our patients and for the rest of the NHS too. It is a personal priority and today NHS England is taking both urgent and longer term action to back GPs and their teams with additional investment and support,” said Amanda Pritchard,  chief executive of the NHS.

“Our new plan provides general practice teams with investment and targeted support. This will tackle underperformance, taking pressure off staff so they can spend more time with patients and increase the number of face-to-face appointments,” added Sajid Javid, Health and Social Care Secretary.

“Alongside this we are setting out more measures to tackle abuse and harassment so staff at GP surgeries who work so tirelessly to care for patients can do so without having to fear for their safety,” he concluded.