Extended hours: huge increase in practices open late
By Gareth Iacobucci
The number of GP practices offering extended hours has increased by 40% since last month, new figures show, despite a new report by MPs slamming the Government's policy.
Official figures for June show that 28% of practices were already offering extended opening, rising from 20% in May.
The increase comes despite the stand-off between the GPC and the Government over a national DES, and is sure to increase anxiety in GP leaders, who have urged practices not to be frightened into accepting inadequate local LES deals.
It comes in the week that a report by MPs severely criticised the Government's blanket approach to the extended hours issue.
The Department fo Health wants at least 50% of GP surgeries offering extended hours, either at evenings or weekends, by the end of the year.
However, the new figures continue to show widespread discrepancies in take-up.
Although 23% of trusts have now achieved the Government's target of 50% or more, up from 14% in May, there were still over a quarter of trusts in with no GP practices at all offering extended hours.
Meanwhile the All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Access & Health Improvement has said extra GP opening hours should be targeted to areas of demand rather than being imposed across the country.
Its GP Access and Health Improvement in Primary Care report says: ‘ We conclude there is a need for more flexible and extended opening hours for GP surgeries, and recommend these hours are targeted to where demand is high rather than having a blanket approach across the country.'
Open all hours: huge increase in practices extending hours Open all hours: huge increase in practices extending hours