Cookie policy notice

By continuing to use this site you agree to our cookies policy below:
Since 26 May 2011, the law now states that cookies on websites can ony be used with your specific consent. Cookies allow us to ensure that you enjoy the best browsing experience.

This site is intended for health professionals only

At the heart of general practice since 1960

Extended hours - an introduction

Half of practices may now be offering extended hours, but take up has been patchy and grassroots opposition continues. Of those who are opening longer are only doing so on sufference. Introducing our guide to how you can make the policy work for you, we look at the national picture on extended hours.

Half of practices may now be offering extended hours, but take up has been patchy and grassroots opposition continues. Of those who are opening longer are only doing so on sufference. Introducing our guide to how you can make the policy work for you, we look at the national picture on extended hours.

The Government was quick to celebrate last month when it hit its target of 50% of practices in England offering extended hours.

The Scottish Government was also proud to announce that 54% of its GP surgeries had got involved.

41211021The fact that the impressive uptake figure of 51% in England had been met ahead of the end-of-year deadline seemed to affirm the success of the Department of Health's highly controversial policy in the face of strong opposition from GPs.

Participators were thanked for their co-operation and health minister Ben Bradshaw said PCTs with lower uptake should be shamed into action.

But more detailed statistics from the DH and the Scottish Government show a far less rosy picture of widespread variations in uptake across PCTs and NHS boards, with figures ranging from 97.1% in Cornwall and Isles of Scilly to 1% in Liverpool.

Anecdotally, Pulse has also learned of some pockets of active rebellion – such as in the North-West, where 17 out of 37 practices in Heywood, Middleton and Rochdale PCT voted last month to boycott an unsatisfactory PCT package.

The wrong patients?

Figures from a Pulse survey of 398 GPs in England, Scotland and Wales last month also raised questions over the underlying success of the national policy in targeting the right patients.

Of the GPs questioned, 67% were offering extended hours surgeries.

In addition, these surgeries were found to be steadily booking up, with three-quarters of slots taken.

However, the survey also revealed they were filling up with patients who were not working, and could have equally attended during the day.

According to the survey, only 37% of those attending were working professionals – suggesting the Government's access drive may not be benefiting those for whom it was intended.

There is also evidence that although weekday extended hours surgeries are already busy, there may be lower demand for those on Saturdays.

Of 268 practices offering extended hours, on average 76% of appointments were taken.

But among 106 practices offering Saturday surgeries, attendance dropped to an average of 67%.

And at 15 practices offering just one extended hours surgery a week on Saturday morning, just 46% of slots were taken.

Some 90% of GPs offering extended hours did so under a LES, in many cases with more flexibility and in some cases with more pay than under the DES.

In this special guide, we look at the huge variations in incentives, learn how one GP launched an evening surgery and get practical advice from our expert panel on how to run a service safely.

Extended hours snapshot Patchy results of government's extended hours drive

Scotland


Top NHS boards (% of surgeries offering extended hours)
1. 89 - Dumfries and Galloway
2. 86 - Forth Valley
3. 76 - Ayrshire and Arran
4. 75 - Western Isles
5. 70 - Shetland


Bottom NHS boards (% of surgeries offering extended hours)
1. 26 - Fife
2. 35 - Tayside
3. 36 - Lanarkshire
4. 40 - Borders
5. 40 - Orkney


England


Top PCTs (% of surgeries offering extended hours)
1. 97.1 - Cornwall and Isles of Scilly
2. 95.9 - Hampshire
3. 94.4 - Tower Hamlets
4. 93.5 - Wiltshire
5. 93.0 - Barking and Dagenham
6. 91.5 - Dorset
7. 90.9 - Darlington
8. 88.9 - Bath and North East Somerset
9. 88.2 - Isle of Wight
10. 87.5 - Hartlepool


Bottom PCTs (% of surgeries offering extended hours)


1. 1.0 - Liverpool
2. 3.2 - Nottingham City
3. 4.8 - North Lincolnshire
4. 4.9 - South West Essex
5. 6.8 - Shropshire County
6. 7.8 - Bromley
7. 7.9 - Harrow
8. 9.0 - Worcestershire
9. 9.3 - Nottinghamshire County
10. 9.7 - Cumbria

Extended hours How uptake of the DES has increased

Rate this article 

Click to rate

  • 1 star out of 5
  • 2 stars out of 5
  • 3 stars out of 5
  • 4 stars out of 5
  • 5 stars out of 5

0 out of 5 stars

Have your say