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Bradshaw: BMA now supports extended hours

By Nigel Praities

BMA has shifted to ‘reluctantly support' the government's drive to extend practice hours, health minister Ben Bradshaw has told MPs.

In an evidence session with members of the cross-party parliamentary group on access and health improvement today, Bradshaw said he hoped GPs would accept the government's proposal for three extra opening hours per week after the BMA offered its qualified support for the offer.

‘It is the single issue the public raise about primary care. It is right that we address the issue that working people and others raise,' he said.

Pulse revealed this week that only a third of PCTs expect to complete their audit of practice opening hours by the Department of Health's deadline, after many practices refused to co-operate following legal advice from the GPC.

This leaves Department of Health plans to monitor opening hours on a monthly basis in disarray, but Bradshaw warned MPs that GPs had to demonstrate ‘meaningful' increases in opening hours in order to satisfy the government

‘[Additional opening hours] have to be in meaningful chunks, either in the evening or on Saturday mornings,' he said.

In a wide-ranging discussion with MPs, Bradshaw said many practices were hitting the 48 hour target for making appointments, but that there was ‘still a lot of progress to be made' on improving patients ability to book appointments in advance.


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