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Government defends position over GP opening hours

24 December 2007

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The government is trying to defend its position in the escalating row over extending GP opening hours.

It made the move after the British Medical Association (BMA) accused it of putting a gun to the head of family doctors on the issue of evening and weekend opening.

The government wants surgeries to open for an extra half an hour for every 1,000 patients, in blocks of one and a half hours.

For an average GP practice with 6,000 patients, this will mean an extra three hours a week.

But the proposals have been rejected by the BMA, which only wants surgeries to open for an extra two hours on average.

Dr Richard Vautrey, from the BMA’s GPs’ Committee, said GPs want to work extended hours flexibly, based on patient need, rather than “something dreamt up in Number 10”.

But a spokeswoman for the Department of Health said: “The deal we put forward to the BMA involved an extra £100m for primary care services – giving extra investment to those practices offering additional services.

“This is a major step in providing greater convenience for patients.

“We find it disappointing that the GPC have not been able to agree this, and very much hope frontline GPs will back this sensible proposal that will see them providing a better and more convenient service to their patients.”

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