Lukewarm reception to extended GP opening hours

MORE TIME: Plan unveiled for GP surgeries to open 8am to 8pm, seven days a week
MORE TIME: Plan unveiled for GP surgeries to open 8am to 8pm, seven days a week

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DOCTORS and a patient-support group are asking for more detail and discussion over plans to extend GP surgery opening hours to cover evenings and weekends.

Today, Prime Minister David Cameron announced plans for a £50m trial to have surgeries open from 8am until 8pm, seven days a week.

The Conservative party said it will offer extra cash to groups of GPs proposing the most effective ways to improve patient access.

Alongside longer opening hours, ministers hope technology such as consultations via video will also be trialled.

Dr Jim Hogan is the lead for the Portsmouth Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG).

He said: ‘I understand the money will be given in a competition, and the bid will be put in as an innovation fund.

‘More guidance will be coming out in December, and it will be interesting to see more detail.

‘This announcement isn’t a surprise, and doctors have been waiting for new contracts to come in, so a 8am to 8pm, seven day week thinking, would be the way forward.

‘From my perspective, the concern is I hope the government know why they are doing this.

‘Is it to give patients more access to primary care, or to help out A&E?

‘If it’s to help out A&E, then you need to see if other services will be provided with extended hours.’

The announcement was made to give patients more access to GPs.

Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt said: ‘We live in a 24/7 society and we need GPs to find new ways of working so they can offer appointments at times that suit hard-working people.’

Dr David Chilvers, is the lead of the Fareham and Gosport CCG.

He said: ‘The devil will be in the detail and seeing more information on the proposal.

‘Anything that improves public access is encouraging.

‘There are young people who work different times, and who elect to go to casualty as primary care.’

Portsmouth Healthwatch is a patient support group.

Gareth Wessels, advocate coordinator said: ‘People aren’t happy with GP waiting times, but there needs to be more discussion on the reprussions of extended opening hours, and viable answers.’

The first pilot projects are due to be operating by April 2014.