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GP longer opening hours plan revealed

By Steve Nowottny

The Government has announced plans to redraft the quality and outcomes framework and revise local incentives in a bid to force GPs to open longer hours.

As exclusively reported by Pulse in June, it is determined to press ahead with the extension of hours, despite the Patient Experience Survey, which was finally released last week, showing the overwhelming majority of patients are content.

The survey of nearly 2.3 million patients, which cost £11 million to fund, found 84% of patients were satisfied with their practice opening hours.

But in a statement to the House of Commons, new health secretary Alan Johnson said Lord Darzi's wide-ranging review of the NHS would examine how the QOF can reward responsiveness to patient experience in a more effective way, addressing local concerns and issues'.

He added: 'Lord Darzi will consider the potential for GPs to be asked to achieve even better outcomes for their patients in order to earn the same level of incentive.'

The Department of Health has set up a national improvement team, led by primary care tsar Dr David Colin-Thome, to target PCTs and practices with lower access scores.

It also announced proposals for PCT local action plans to target areas where GP access was not coming up to scratch.

GP doubts GP doubts

Dr Jim Lawrie, vice-chair of Newham LMC and a GP in Beckton in East London, attributed Newham PCT's joint-bottom ranking in the patient satisfaction table to longer working hours among patients in the borough.
‘If the government wants to address the issue and fund and support a needy group, it will be welcome,' he said.
‘But the devil is in the word ‘address'. It's convenient to have services at all times, but you also have to think about the workers, and the government need to identify real needs.'

Dr David Colin-Thome: heading up review of access Dr David Colin-Thome: heading up review of access

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