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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)

  • In our area/county/region we have a GP recruitment crisis, so whoopee, another reason why doctors won't want to work in general practice.

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  • He must be a very silly man if he is being reported accurately.

    Stretch the present resources to a seven day week with infinite hours is possible but how many GPs would suffer from burnout and how many patients would die though mistakes due to fatigue?

    How many hours a week does he think a GP should work?

    With more GPs and resources what he suggests is possible..

    With no more resources his statements if true border on idiocy.

    You could have lay people with check lists and all combinations up to a fully qualified GP in a hierarchical system but even that would require more resources.

    Surely he must have been misreported other wise he is a seriously flawed thinker.

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  • Most healthcare is routine and much of it complex. Some healthcare is urgent and much of it straightforward.
    Continuity of care is essential for safety and efficiency. 24/7 or 7/7 General Practice will risks undermining this.

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  • My late evening surgeries are already full of the same old pensioners and dossers I see all day long, and are an imposition on my family life. If I could truly reserve the slots I make available for the working population who can't get to see me in office hours I wouldn't even need to consider extending the free-for-all into what remains of my own time ie the weekend.

    I already get complaints from patients I see out of hours when they have to reattend in hours for the bloods etc I want them to have. Is the government going to pay for all the backup services I need to function as a GP or do they still believe life is as simple as patient sees doctor gets script end of?

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  • Anyone over 55 will be off into the wild blue yonder! This is more nonsense. This political push to a 24hr society is destroying family life.It is a downward spiral which I fear we cannot reverse.The joke of it is we are all being forced to cater for those work work 9-5-the ultimate end is that they will be an extinct species as everyone will be working ridiculous shifts to keep everything available 24/7!! We cant afford what we have so why keep offering more and creating ever greater expectations.Lets hope this idiot doesnt waste as much money as Lord Darzi did on stupid ideas.

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  • Side by side with this idea is the premise that nurses and protocols can deal with most routine care & paramedics and protocols most emergency care so there will be the expectation of reduced costs as the GP workforce are diminished.
    Then of corse there will be a further downward pressure on costs as with diminishing GP posts will be an increasing redundant workforce competing for the few remaining posts .. And with rules of supply & demand, if supply of workers is high the remuneration will fall.

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  • I used to blame the BMA, but really what are we prepared to do? Seriously, our pay per face to face consultation is now £3- £4. If we continue to work so cheaply, we will get more thrown at us. Are we prepared to walk away? Otherwise, we may button up and just work.

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  • Siraj Shah

    What amazes me why we cannot unite and stand up against these politically driven and financially motivated foolish reforms ? As long as we lack a strong leadership and our trade organization BMA behaves like a toothless tiger...the future of General Practice looks bleak.

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  • ‘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.’

    i would strongly suggest you do this first Sir Bruce ....before you make any more foolish suggestions.

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  • I think we need some compromise. My daughter's friend has to take a day's leave just to see her GP for a medication review.

    I have also just been shouted out by my employing GP for asking if they have realised they have left their practice nurse (me) working with no GP half the afternoon. Among other issues, I only got to mention the lack of someone to sign a prescription (since he didn't approve the course), only to be told "Let them come back!" In this instance, this GP is totally unsympathetic to people taking time off work to actually get to the surgery, some elderly frail pay for a taxi...well I know some of you must understand!

    To try to compromise I start work at the surgery 7am two days a week and the bonus is I miss the traffic jams. However, I prefer to keep my week-ends for my own family.

    At least my non-nursing degree might get me a management job at Tesco :-)

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