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Cameron’s 7-day access pledge raises RCGP concerns

18 May 2015

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By 2020 there will be seven-day GP access, Prime Minister David Cameron is expected to confirm in a speech today at a GP surgery in the West Midlands.

Cameron is expected to commit to hispre-election pledges of seven-day GP access, increased NHS budgets by at least £8bn a year by 2020, and the recruitment of 5,000 new GPs.

However, Dr Maureen Baker, RCGP chair, said: “Access to GP services is extremely important but prioritising weekend and evening access must not come at the expense of access and services during normal hours so that patients end up worse off.”

She said that GPs now see 370 million patients – 70m more than even five years ago, however the share of the NHS budget for general practice has fallen to an all-time low of just over 8% in England.

“We have a severe shortage of GPs and it is difficult to see how this will work without major investment in general practice and a major boost to the GP workforce. Many practices are already offering extended opening hours but for the majority, seven day opening remains an aspiration and telling patients that they can walk into their local surgery in the evening or at weekends risks raising expectations that general practice cannot live up to with current resources,” she said.