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At the heart of general practice since 1960

Government cracks down on 48-hr access loophole

GP practices are to be monitored to make sure they offer advance appointments as well as 48-hour access.

New Department of Health guidance to PCTs makes clear practices cannot meet the access target by simply preventing patients from making an appointment more than two days in advance.

'The 48-hour target means a patient should have the opportunity to be seen within two working days,' it said. 'Patients should also have the option of making appointments outside these target times.'

The fact some practices were not offering advance appointments when attempting to meet same-day or 48-hour access emerged last year.

Some practices implementing the controversial advanced access scheme – and others who tried to adopt its principles unofficially – had stopped or severely limited patients' ability to prebook appointments.

GPC deputy-chair Dr Ham- ish Meldrum said: 'Practices will try to comply but we are only human and sometimes you won't be able to satisfy both sets of customers in a doctor-limited, cash-limited system.'

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