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At the heart of general practice since 1960

Extended hours taken up by ‘the wrong type of patient’

By Gareth Iacobucci

Extended hours surgeries are filling up with patients who are not working and could have equally attended during the day, Pulse can reveal.

Six months since the extended hours drive began, our survey of 398 GPs finds surgeries are steadily booking up, with three-quarters of slots taken.

But only 37% of those attending are working professionals – suggesting the Government's access drive may not be benefiting those it was intended for.

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 67% across all surgeries.

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 more pay than the DES.

GPs who responded to the survey were sceptical over the benefits of the policy.

Dr Catti Moss, a GP in Guilsborough, Northamptonshire, said: ‘Extended hours probably enables one or two patients a week to see a GP at a time they need to avoid missing work.

‘The rest of the slots are filled by those who would find it equally easy to see a doctor in the normal week.'

Dr Lisa Horman, a GP in Taunton, Somerset, said extended hours was ‘a solution to a problem that never existed'.

She said: ‘There's really a very low uptake. Our DNA rate is 32% for extended hours – 10 times normal.'

Commuters are not the ones taking advantage of extended hours

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