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Patients prioritise weekday access over seven-day opening

Most patients would prefer their GP practice to offer extended hours for weekday appointments rather than weekend opening, a new study has found.

The study of 1,700 patients registered with general practices in England found that around half of patients said the main factor deciding their choice of practice was weekday access.

The findings come as the Government is pushing for practices to provide seven-day access, with Prime Minister David Cameron setting up a £100m fund committed to delivering seven-day GP access, following a similar £50m fund.

A team of health policy researchers from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine asked the patients to indicate whether they would register with a local practice or one outside their neighbourhood, depending on various factors such as whether they offered Saturday and Sunday opening times and extended opening hours on weekdays, how quickly patients could get to see a GP and how well the GP knew their specific needs.

For around half the patients, termed ‘convenience shoppers’, the key factors that drove their choice of practice were extended weekday appointments and how quickly they would see the GP.

The results also showed most patients did not care about weekend appointments when choosing a practice, according to the authors.

The team concluded: ‘There is little evidence that the English population will be more satisfied with weekend opening of GP practices, while extended hours during the week and increasing the proportion of patients able to see a GP on the same day are more likely to meet the population’s preferences.’

Health Policy 2014; available online 22 Oct

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Readers' comments (12)

  • In my town we have seven supermarkets open daily, but only Tescos is open 24hrs. Everyone shops where they prefer: the vast majority using the smaller, more personal, comfortable service of the brand they know, seeking their own continuity. But in the middle of the night, when you discover you need something urgently, or you have got home from work too late to visit your usual supermarket and you need dinner tonight, we have all used Tescos 24hr service.
    What we need to recognise is that Primary Care is just that, not Emergency Care. No 24/7 or even 12/7 primary care service is going to be able to deliver the same level of care, continuity and professionalism as our patients deserve and expect. What this research is telling us is that patients acknowledge that too. They would like evening surgeries so they can attend without their children, or after work, or bring their aging relative to understand better their needs, and an hour or two of evening surgery a couple of times a week is reasonable to expect, but otherwise, Tescos is open and willing to serve.

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  • the comparisons with supermarket and shopping are silly.
    if we were charging for the visit then comparison becomes real.
    Tesco---everytime you visit and buy something they earn.
    GP everytime you visit or get service ---it is free.
    Tesco will have warehouse attached to it
    GP service dont have even basic investigating services attached to it.
    Tesco is big and has many workers.
    GP services are small and dont have too many people working in it.
    Tesco is more like hospitals
    GP are more like isolated corner shops apart from corner shop profit from opening longer and 7 days a week GP services wont do that. also corner shop dont need to update the man behind the desk to keep uptodate otherwise serious harm to customer, gp services --man behind the desk needs to update himself constantly.
    if you dont like tesco or any other supermarket you can go to another.
    gp services give that provision and continuity goes down the drain, and that is what everyone is fighting for.
    even though continuity is a buzz word for everyone but actually seeing different people might be more useful as new set of eyes can see things froma different perspective.
    anyway supermarket like tesco are also going at a loss.
    there is no comparison between shopping and health otherwise make shop assistant sit in a surgery and let them do the job./
    main problem is less no of AED's and staff cuts in the past we need more GP's, AED Drs, Hospital specialist, nurses and health care workers to give a first world health care experience to the first worl country rather than due to money constraints and political diktat and interference give a third world experience to first world residents

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