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Independents' Day

Just 0.4% of people 'would benefit from Sunday appointments'

Just one in 250 people would benefit from wider introduction of Sunday GP appointments, an academic study has shown, mirroring finds made by a Government-commissioned report on seven-day opening. 

University of East Anglia (UEA) researchers looked at 881,183 responses to the GP patient survey, and found that four in five patients felt that their practice had convenient opening times. 

They found that, of the 20% who felt they were inconvenient, just 2% would only be able to attend on Sunday - equating to 0.4% of the population. The majority said that Saturday opening would be more convenient.

The team’s findings underline those of NHS England’s first official evaluation of the £100m first-wave of Prime Minister’s Challenge Fund pilots, which has concluded Sunday opening is not worthwhile.

The UEA research on weekend GP opening, published today in the British Journal of General Practice, said: ’There were 881,183 respondents in 2014, of whom 712,776 (81%) did not report any problems with opening times: 168,407 (19.1%) reported that their GP surgery was not open at a convenient time.

Of these, 76.1% (14.5% of all respondents) reported that weekend opening would make it easier for them to see someone.

‘A higher proportion of those patients who reported that their surgery was not open at a convenient time preferred Saturday opening (73.9%) compared with Sunday (35.8%). Only 2.2% of respondents who did not feel that their practice was open at a convenient time felt that Sunday, but not Saturday, opening would make it easier for them.’

Lead researcher Dr John Ford, from UEA’s Norwich Medical School, said: ’Some weekend opening pilots have already begun to show that there is a lack of demand on Sundays, and our findings suggest that Sunday opening, in addition to Saturday, would be unlikely to improve access.’

This came as Pulse had already revealed that half of the pilots reduced opening hours due to lack of demand, especially on Sundays.

Weekend Opening in Primary Care: Analysis of the General Practice Patient Survey’ is published in the British Journal of General Practice on 6 November 2015.


Readers' comments (17)

  • I van an appointment

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  • A DoH spokesperson said; Sundays are still lovely days to see a lovely GP on anyway.

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  • Vinci Ho

    The circle just goes around . For those(including myself) who still remember the time when Saturday morning surgery was a norm, this report has not proved anything else. The only difference in reality is the funding in general practice had been disproportionately cut in last 5-6 years plus shortage of GPs , which will risk the care of the normal five days because of the effect called thinning out resources . Hence , I stick to the conclusion that any weekend GP appointment should be paid by a separate fee. Employers should pay that for their employees if so called no time allowed to see GP during the week remains as an argument.

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  • Evidence, schmedivence. The future belongs to the ideologues and we are all going over the cliff together. Thanks Ivan.

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  • Harry Longman

    I prefer evidence which looks at what people actually do, rather than this which asks them what they would do. But both now show the same thing: Sunday opening is so unpopular that it is economic madness to offer it.

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  • surprise surprise. the only GPs interested in weekend opening are those looking to reap the financial rewards without doing any of the work.

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  • Just 0.4% of people would benefit from Sunday appointments, says academic study - in that case we need 24 hr Sunday opening.

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  • People taking time off work to see a GP is bad for GDP.

    If 7 day week comes in play across the board, the demand for Sunday clinics is going to be generated by employers refusing time off for routine appointments.

    Any current monitoring/opinion polling is largely irrelevant.

    And this is not ideology. This is a matter of economics and responsible forward planning.

    It all goes into the public purse out of which NHS is funded.

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  • Given monday is a nightmare for both practices and A&E is there an arguement for actually encouraging patients to use Sunday services for minor coughs and colds etc?

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  • At the moment it seems to be a nightmare everyday,seven day working just makes it an unremitting nightmare without end.

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