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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)

  • "it wont increase pay as each employee would still work 5 out of 7 days"

    Just a 40% increase in workforce required then (doh!) - whom I suspect probably won't work for free, so the cost goes up by more than 40% because it's not a marginal cost.

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  • Amazing- how long before weekends and holidays vanish altogether for everyone in the name of working off the debt of fiat currency generated by bankers and politicians who work how many hours a year?

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  • Mark Struthers

    GPs have proved themselves highly adept at selling quack remedies like flu vaccines, statins and all manner of useless QOF-drops. I can understand why Sir Bruce equates the health business with Tescos.

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  • This article has generated the expected negative comments, but just look at it from the patient's perspective the rest of the world operates a 24 hour system why should routine medical care be limited to weekdays?
    The idea should be encouraged the real battle should be to get appropriate funding for this

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  • Increased cost, increased abuse, lack of appreciation....the government needs to spend time and effort educating people as to the appropriate use of health services, and if it is abused, charge accordingly. 7-day access just creates unnecessary demand. Articles in the Times about the unnecessary prescribing of amoxicillin....great.......but sometimes we are so cornered by the aggressive, abusive and complaint-threatening patients, what other options are there?!?! Unless we stand our ground, but then they try to see another GP or go to an urgent care centre where it is easier to prescribe and get them out the door!

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  • I think that this devalues the health service enormously. The goivernment should support industry and people to prioritise health by enabling them to attend genuine GP appointments and to take some responsibility for their own health. There is an enormous amount of people who call GP surgeries for an emergency appointment but can't take up the appt they are offered because they are busy elsewhere!!!

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  • If someone is ill, they are more than likely to be off work and so could come to the doctors during the week. If they need to come for a routine check and are not ill then surely that is why we currently operate extended hours!
    Where I work, there is a good out of hours service that covers overnight and weekends, and also operates the '111' service, so emergency and general health advice are catered for.
    Having to open at weekends will involve so much extra funding that it won't be affordable. Unless extra GPs are employed, it will mean a dilution of availability during the week, not to mention having to employ additional staff and paying unsocial pay rates. There is no way we could spread our existing staffing over an extra couple of days.
    A high proportion of patients attending the surgery are elderly, or at least past retirement age, so they should have little problem attending Monday to Friday without having to beg any employer for time off.
    I can see this appearing in the media as "GPs refuse to work weekends" getting the profession more bad publicity. The BMA need to take a very firm stance on this and ensure that if it does happen then it is properly funded and not done on the cheap like most of the initiatives over the past few years.

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  • If a full GP weekend service is really that important to meet the unmet health needs of those who work AND resources are limited then the solution is to be open for 3 weekdays (for the non working population) and open at the weekend (for access to those who are workers only).

    It may not be popular with those who work in GP Practices BUT if it is truly important to meet the unmet health needs of workers then so be it.

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  • Thats a very brilliant idea, why not 24/7 and all the government offices and including Sir Bruce Keogh working 7 days of the week, life would be so convenient.
    I am surprised he is medical director of the NHS Commissioning Board.

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  • What about alternatives;
    • Close the UK borders forthwith we cannot support any more people - works in Australia!
    • Stop providing free healthcare to literally anyone irrespective of their right to be here
    • Make a law saying that Employers MUST allow employees to visit their Doctor subject to a "certificate of need" from GP
    • Stop politicising the NHS - tell the truth, Patients are routinely abusing it - you DO NOT need to be seen with a cough after 2 days, fungal nail infections are not an emergency
    • Stop prescribing any drug that costs less in any Tesco (Other supermarkets are also available) than it does for the Doctor to issue, print, the pharmacy to fulfill & claim the PPA to validate & reimburse EG Paracetamol 18p to buy £20+ cost of a script?

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