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Four countries may go their own way on extended hours

By Steve Nowottny

The contract dispute has opened up divisions between the four countries of the UK, with Northern Ireland the first to confirm it would go a different path than England over the negotiations.

GPs in Northern Ireland will not have to offer extended opening hours as part of next year's contract, Pulse has learned.

Dr Brian Dunn, chair of GPC Northern Ireland, said he had received a formal contract offer from the province's Department of Health, Social Services and Public Safety, which the committee will discuss at a meeting later this week.

The Welsh Assembly is also understood to see extended opening as less of a priority, although a spokesperson refused to comment on negotiations.

But the Scottish Government Health Department is pressing ahead with a consultation on a possible imposition, with full details of the offer on the table likely to be sent to GPs shortly.

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