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Millions find GP opening times ‘inconvenient’

17 July 2013

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At least 7.5 million people find their GP surgery’s opening hours inconvenient, a survey has revealed. 

The highest numbers of dissatisfied patients were in the South East, East of England and London, according to a Labour party survey. 

In Slough, 26% of respondents were dissatisfied with their GP surgery’s opening hours, and in Ealing 24% of respondents were unhappy.

Of the respondents, 72% would like their surgery open on Saturdays, which is equivalent to 5.4 million patients nationally, according to Labour. 

And 70% would like their surgery to be open in the evenings, which would be equal to at least 5.2 million patients.

Liz Kendall MP, Labour’s Shadow Health Minister, said: “Millions of people want to be able to book an appointment with a GP outside of normal working hours. It’s hard to take time off during work, and many people also have to commute or pick their children up after school.”

However, Dr Richard Vautrey, Vice-Chair of the BMA’s GP Committee, called the survey results “complete nonsense” and a “misuse of statistics” as they were focusing on a “small percentage of people” that were dissatisfied and “magnified” the number to get these results.

Dr Vautrey said: “I think this is an unfortunate use of statistics. I think it is doubly unfortunate when the factual results show huge satisfaction with GP services and the access they get to GPs, which is far in excess of other public services. I think it is political point scoring against the government, but is not something to be welcome.

“Practices will offer the most appropriate hours within the resources they have got. Many surgeries will offer early morning surgery when they have commuters or appointments later on.”