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Independents' Day

Emails reveal Number 10 nerves on GP extended hours

Emails obtained by Pulse under the Freedom of Information Act reveal just how nervous Number 10 was over progress on its high profile to get GP practices offering extended opening hours.

NHS Yorkshire and Humber emailed its PCTs in June with an urgent request for a progress report ahead of a meeting with the Prime Minister's Delivery Unit.

Trusts were given two days to provide details of their local incentive scheme to get GPs to open longer and details about its status.

When North Lincolnshire PCT replied it was ‘confident' the target would be met, the SHA immediately replied – nine minutes later – demanding more details.

‘What makes you confident – the LMC agreement or are you getting winks from GPs at practice meetings?' Primary Care Lead asked.

‘Do you have evidence or are you just hoping? Sorry to be so blunt but this is exactly what the PM delivery unit is asking me!'

At the time, 22% of practices were offering extended opening, though this was believed to be only the number who had agreed to do it, but were not yet providing the extra hours.

In Prime Minister's Question Time earlier this week, Gordon Brown hailed the fact 65% of GP practices now offer extended hours.

Responding to a question from Labour back bencher Martin Linton, who asked whether the Prime Minister could confirm that nearly 5,000 GP surgeries were offering extended hours and whether he could "say when all of them will do so?", Mr Brown responded that GPs were opening longer because 'we demanded it'

He added: ‘The Opposition's policy is GPs make their own decisions, and that would mean large numbers would not open in the evenings or at weekends.'

Emails reveal the extent of Government nerves over the extended hours target

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