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Most GPs oppose spending NHS money on extended opening hours

17 October 2007

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More than 70% of GPs do not believe extending opening hours is a good way to spend scarce NHS resources, according to the survey of 11,000 GPs conducted by the British Medical Association (BMA).

However, the survey also shows that around half (53.3%) of GP partners would consider extending opening hours if the resources were available.

The BMA believes that extending surgery opening hours should not just mean that GPs hold extra appointments, but that it also has to mean the whole practice team and hospital and community support services are available.

If not, argues the BMA, then evening or weekend surgeries would be of little genuine use to patients, and extending opening hours has huge resource implications.

Dr Buckman, chairman of the BMA’s General Practitioners Committee, said: “GPs are not against looking at new ways of working, and already tailor their services in flexible ways to meet the needs of their patients.

“The government’s own survey showed 84% of patients are happy with their GP practice’s current opening hours. Only four in a hundred patients wanted practices to open in the evenings and seven in a hundred wanted Saturday morning surgeries1.

“With regard to extending hours further beyond the current 8am – 6.30pm, GPs remain to be convinced. Without specific, additional funding for extended hours, current services will become harder to sustain.

“It will mean surgeries will have to close during the day so they can be open in the evening. Fewer daytime appointments will affect the patients who use and need us the most. It would be the elderly, the very young and those with long-term conditions who would lose out.”