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GPs told to prepare for 'Tesco-style' seven-day opening

GPs should be prepared to work at weekends for the benefit of patients in an effort to emulate the customer service offered by Tesco, the medical director of the NHS Commissioning Board has said

Sir Bruce Keogh told the Sunday Times that primary and secondary care clinicians should move towards seven-day working. He said the current system is designed for health workers and not patients.

‘Our system has been based around providing as good a working environment as you can for the people who work in the health service, which isn’t necessarily matched with what the people who want services have. If you wanted a day case operation, and you didn’t want to take a day off work, why can’t you have it on a Saturday or Sunday?,’ he said.

‘It seems strange in a way that you cannot go to a clinic at the weekend, you cannot have your day case surgery at the weekend when the rest of the commercial world is going in a different direction.

‘Tesco have had to go through this – it was a complex issue for them. As we think this through, we will need to look at the terms and conditions of service of people – employment conditions.’

A BMA spokesperson said: ‘The health service is not Tesco — I don’t think that is a good comparison. Equally, there are examples around the country where clinics are taking place at weekends.’

She added: ‘The BMA is open to discussing seven-day working. The key issue is flexibility — not all clinics will need [weekend opening].’

Readers' comments (62)

  • I disagree - I think the current system is based (and funded) around routine Monday-Friday normal hours and an emergency service at weekends, not primarily to provide a good working environment as asserted. Moreover, if everybody is expected to work 7 days a week, the argument for having surgery on Saturday or Sunday so as not to miss a day's work becomes illogical.
    This is not the commercial world - it's healthcare. If routine 24 hour care is desired, it will have to be funded and staffed. On the other hand, money could be saved (in these times of austerity) by retaining the current system and - hey - actually taking time off work to attend to one's health. The occasional inconvenience is surely better than mass disruption, cost and likely increased recruitment difficulties.
    Tesco - what on earth has the NHS to do with Tesco? (And why the free advertising?)

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  • I've seen lots of comments about how this isnt extra work because that which comes in during the week will come in at weekends instead. Workload will increase disproportionately at the weekends as the mildly inconvenient break is released. The WHOLE system would have to be working at weekends to support adding to the 300 million per annum primary care appointments already delivered. Tescos and Sainsburies should still to selling Fruit and Veg and Lord Darzi and Sir Bruce should stick to surgery. I doubt either know the first thing about primary care having not qualified in the specialty.

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  • Will this mean I can get Tesco club card point every time I see my GP. Happy days!

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  • Not just tosh, not even utter tosh this is utter utter tosh!

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  • The road is paved for companies to run the NHS , eg, virgin, , UK care , ......otherwise you have to do it.

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  • Peter Swinyard

    OK, so I open my surgery on Saturday and Sunday. Now, it so happens my children are all grown up and my wife does not work due to her health - so I could do this. But it is antisocial hours, which command a premium in any service sector, and I shall not be open on Monday or Tuesday if I am open at the weekend. And I expect a lot of extra resources for this - my staff will not work at weekends. Full stop. They just won't. Not even for money - they have families and husbands who work 5 or 6 day weeks. When I used to open on Saturday mornings, we had great difficulty staffing this. Would require ridiculous amounts of money to make this happen. Prof Keogh - please listen to me as I have always found you a reasonable man when I have met you, THERE IS NO MONEY to do this. The days of proligacy from the last government are OVER. Surely there are better things to invest in even if we had the money. If you ask patients the question "would you like your GP to be open at the weekend?" the answer is yes. If you ask the question "Would you like your GP to be open at the weekend instead of in the week?" the answer may be different. And don't talk to me of efficiency savings. As aprevious comment says, Tosh, tosh and more tosh. And he/she was being VERY polite. Scotch this, put it away and let's talk about something good for patients...

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  • Important for GPs to get on the right side of the argument here...
    1. It is indefensible that hospitals work so badly at weekends with worse mortality rates
    2. It is indefensible that community and social care services, plus lack of consultant rounds mean levels of discharges plummet at weekends so hospitals are in meltdown on Monday's.
    3. It is an opportunity missed to avo

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  • There is commercial gain to open 7 days a week by Tesco!
    There are just added costs in the NHS
    So the question is how do you pay for it ?
    If you want it like Tesco ... Pay per case???
    I don't think so !!
    Gp 's should deliver what ever is commissioned
    But we should not be expected to do it for free?

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  • Who is going to pay for this 40% increase in capacity? 40% more referrals, 40% more surgery - all to be provided by hospitals who have their income capped. This suggestion is either stupid or devious - softening up the public for privatisation. Probably both.

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  • 'It is indefensible that hospitals work so badly at weekends with worse mortality rates'

    The hospital is working. The consultant is not. They dont even start their clinics or surgery on time 5 days per week. Good luck with getting them in at the weekend.

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