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More than 70% of GPs offering extended hours

The creep of extended hours into primary care appears to be continuing, after official statistics published today showed that over 70% of GP practices are now offering extended hours.

The Department of Health census of GP practices in England showed that for the month ending January 2009, 71.1% of the 8,258 practices in England offered extended hours, up slightly from 68.9% at the end of December 2008.

Extended hours is a key plank of the NHS Operating Framework, and set out the Government's priority for improving routine access to GP services in evenings and at weekends.

All PCTs are required to ensure that at least half of their practices offer extended opening to patients.

The Department of Health figures also show:

  • 148 (97.4%) of commissioners have achieved the operating framework aim of 50% of their GP Practices offering extended opening hours compared with 147 (96.7%) in December.
  • 1 Commissioner had no GP practices offering extended opening hours – the same as in December
  • 59 (38.8%) of commissioners have 75% or more of their practices offering extended hours, compared with 56 (36.8%) in December.

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