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GPs ‘opt out’ of extended opening times

30 July 2012

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The number of GPs offering evening and weekend appointments has dropped, figures obtained by the Labour Party show.

Survey findings published in Labour’s second ‘NHS Check’ report shows 477 GP surgeries or 5.7% opted out of extending their appointment times in the last twelve months.

Hartlepool, Newcastle and Haringey PCTs reported the biggest drops, ranging between 31.3% and 24.3%.

It is claimed some people are now waiting up to three weeks for an appointment with their GP with demand increasing for evening and weekend appointments.

”NHS Check [has] revealed a major fall in the number of GP surgeries offering evening and weekend appointments – leaving patients unable to see their GP at a convenient time and with some people waiting up to three weeks for an appointment,” said Andy Burnham MP, Labour’s Shadow Health Secretary.

“The Government’s calamitous decision to reorganise the NHS has taken eyes off the ball and allowed the system to drift. Its decision to stop the national monitoring of GP opening hours sent out the wrong signal to the NHS and now patients are paying the price.”

Labour has called upon the government to restore GP extended opening hours to 2010/11 levels “with immediate effect” as well as investigate and publish the reasons why GP extended opening hours are declining.