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Sturgeon defends proposals to extend GP opening times

20 July 2007

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Scotland’s health secretary Nicola Sturgeon has defended moves to persuade GPs to be more flexible with their opening times.

The SNP minister wants GPs to open their surgeries during evenings and weekends, saying she believes primary care services need to be more accessible.

But doctors’ leaders claim that longer opening hours will not lead to better patient care, and may actually have a detrimental effect on healthcare provision.

Ms Sturgeon said: “People’s lives and working patterns are changing and the NHS must reflect that.

“If it suits a patient’s employment or childcare arrangements to see a GP or other member of the primary care team in the evening or at weekends, that should be possible.

“It doesn’t mean health professionals working longer – just differently.

“I have encountered huge support – from both patients and staff – for more flexibility and I am determined to work with everyone involved to deliver a modern, 21st-century service.”

Speaking last month, Dr Dean Marshall, chairman of the BMA’s Scottish GPs committee, said: “We accept that some patients want to have the opportunity to visit their GP at evenings and weekends.

“However, the NHS has finite resources and we would have to consider the consequences on our ability to deliver services to those with the greatest need.”


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Your comments: (Terms and conditions apply)

“No. Not when political parties are scoring points by inferring that services can be maintained at no cost. What about staff welfare, child care issues, security to name a few? The main beneficiaries here will be the disorganised and the drug addicts who are out in the evenings. Are the staff who are single or don’t have children to do all the evenings or weekends? Most of our staff have children & have said they will leave if forced to work these hours” – Name and address supplied

“No, patients in general want ever longer hours but expect these to be delivered by their familiar GP and not an unknown locum. Maybe we should go the other way and put GPs on a par with (say) solicitors in terms of getting an appointment i.e Mon-Fri 9-5” – Name and address supplied