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GPs go forth

Nine million patients told they can book evening and weekend GP appointments

Every GP-registered patient is now able to access seven-day services in London, in the largest rollout to date of evening and weekend GP appointments.

NHS England London said the two-year £26m scheme was funded from the GP Forward View, and would provide an additional 75,000 appointments every month, available to nine million patients.

Although areas across England have been piloting seven-day appointments since 2014, NHS England London said it was the first area in the country to be able to offer it to all patients.

GP practices in London are expected to signpost patients to the extended access service when open, while patients can call 111 out of hours.

NHS England's regional director for London, Professor Jane Cummings, said: 'We know it’s not always easy to find time to squeeze in an appointment with your GP to fit in with a busy work and family life.

'Appointments at evenings and weekends will not only improve access to GP services but will also help manage pressures on urgent and emergency care services especially over the busy winter period.'

But her comments come as previous evaluation by NHS England has not found a link between seven-day GP appointments and reduced pressure on urgent NHS resources.

Despite this, the Conservatives made extended access a priority in their snap election manifesto earlier this year, bringing forward from 2020 to 2019 their target for 100% of CCGs in England to provide seven-day, 8am-8pm routine GP access.

Professor Cummings said: 'Increasing access to GP services is one of the highest priorities for the NHS and I am thrilled that London is the first region to be able to offer this to everyone.

'Although patients may not see their usual doctor or nurse they can expect to receive the same excellent level of treatment and care. GPs will have access to a patient’s electronic health care record.'

Dr Sian Howell, London clinical access lead and a GP in Southwark said: 'It is fantastic that London is leading the way as the first region in the UK to offer 100% extended access to GP services...

'We need to continue to build on this to make sure we have the best systems in place across all of general practice in London, not only supporting patients to access the right service to meet their needs in a timely way, but also so those working in general practice are empowered to always deliver the best care they can.'

The news comes as Pulse revealed in June that some of the lowest take-up of Sunday appointments during the pilot phase was in areas of London, including just 2% in Wembley and 11% in Camden.

But NHS England has today launched an awareness campaign about the scheme, aiming to get patients to use the service, using the #staywellLondon hashtag.

Practices piloting seven-day working were set targets to ensure at least 60% of their appointments are used, and those falling short asked to submit plans on how they would boost demand.

GP leaders have argued that NHS England should focus on securing in-hours access, as patients are currently having to wait an average of two weeks for a routine appointment.


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Readers' comments (25)

  • £26,000,000 / 75,000 = £347

    Am I missing something here? Shouldn't this be 750,000 appointments, or are the time scales for the 2 numbers not aligned?

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  • The article has been updated to clarify that there will be an extra 75,000 appointments every month.

  • AlanAlmond

    I’m really pleased. Improving access for the busy working well should always be number one priority for our cash limited National Health Service. This along with immediate access to a GP for anyone with an expensive mobile phone (again in London only) is just fabulous. It’s so heartening to hear this wonderful government initiative is being rolled out in our capital city, to complement recent amazing investments in transport infrastructure. All the self important smug gits living there must be lathered up in joy. Oh how wonderful it is to be so ill you can’t take time off work and yet still get to see a Dr whenever you want to discuss your possible fungal nail infection ...sure to save to country a packet ?
    Absolutely the opposite you total and utter feckin MORONS

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  • They so love these visiting professorships:

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  • Bonkers, yet populist. Perfect for the post-expert Brexit future we are all hurtling towards.

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  • NHS England's regional director for London, Professor Jane Cummings, said: 'We know it’s not always easy to find time to squeeze in an appointment with your GP to fit in with a busy work and family life.

    That's right.......concerns regarding your health is something to fit around other priorities such as doing the weekly shop, booking your brow wax and going to the gym.


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  • Just an additional comment.....

    I do weekend extended hours (purely for the cash I hasten to add rather than any altruistic reasons)'s generally full of dross.....worried well and 'you can't be too careful types'. Meanwhile Rome burns........

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  • Utterly disgraceful that NHSE is spending GPFV money on first world problems of fitting your verruca in with Christmas shopping, rather than actually stopping unsustainable practices from going under due to lack of funding.

    No doubt the government stooges will come along and tell us what a wonderful thing it is to have weekend access.

    Meanwhile Rome is in flames.....

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  • At least a 1/3 of the GP workload is clinical but not directly spent in appointments, including the horrendous amount of work being the backstop for clinical risk dumping and leakage by hospitals.
    Using the money for day time appointments also pays for clinicians to check results, follow up patients discharged from hospitals, update medications etc.
    Using this money for extended hours only gives you the extra appointments.
    The opportunity cost of this convenience if massive.

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  • Additional appointments or just redistributed (with loss of efficiency) appointments? Has the impact on out-of-hours cover been assessed? How is this a good idea given the shortage of GPs?

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  • Knowledge is Porridge

    I wonder if many of these consultations will record "MUST see usual GP within 72 hours". Most of our 111 letters finish with those helpful words. Thankfully patients ignore if they are feeling better.

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