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Routine seven-day general practice is 'for manual workers on hourly wage'

Refusing seven-day routine general practice will enshrine health inequalities in the UK by discriminating against people in manual labour, the chief executive of NHS England has suggested.

Simon Stevens was taking questions at NHS England’s Health and Care Innovation Expo in Manchester today, when a GP attendee requested ‘an honest debate’ about the lack of financial and workforce resources available to extend GP access beyond the current offer.

But Mr Stevens spoke out in defence of the Conservative Government’s election pledge to roll out seven-day routine access for all, by saying it was necessary to tackle health inequalities.

He told the audience: ‘What we sometimes forget is that yes, we have this debate, this trade-off about the availability of staff to do this. But if you’re a manual worker on an hourly wage who cannot get time off work, or who will forfeit earnings if you have to take the morning off on a weekday to go and wait in a GP surgery - that can lead to people putting off going for needed care.’

He added that although it ‘is not going to be something done in every surgery every weekend’, it was crucial to bridging inequality gaps.

He said: ‘If we are serious about tackling health inequalities we have got to be serious about how we make these services available more generally.’

Mr Stevens comments come after a Pulse investigation revealed that several seven-day pilot sites have already dropped routine weekend appointments because of a lack of demand from patients. But, despite this, Mr Stevens said CCGs should look to emulate extended general practice access that is now being rolled out on a permanent basis in Greater Manchester.

He said: ‘The example that Greater Manchester has set, with their proposition for seven-day access by the end of this year, is an example I think people should take a careful look at.’

 

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  • Simon Stevens - online

Readers' comments (33)

  • Pre 2004 - GPs were available 24/7 - health inequality existed then and now? where is the link?

    However, We do have access in the weekends known as extended hours DES - Do you know this mr CEO?

    Resources ?? we do not have enough money - Lets duplicate this with OOH and WIC ?

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  • Don't start whipping out the equal opportunities card at us, Mr Stevens. How about a study of who actually uses the surgeries we put on in the evenings and at weekends, rather that who you think might want to use them? I'm sure mine isn't the only practice whose Saturday surgeries are full of people who could attend before 6pm on a weekday.

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  • Really puzzled by this. In the rest of Europe, they don't have 7/7 working yet patients have excellent access (due to the numbers per head of the population ) and liberal employment policies allowing them time off alongside shortere working hours (yet in some countries strangely more productive nevertheless). I have yet to see the evidence that patients want to see a doctor for their BP check on a Sunday afternoon.

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  • we did a winter project of saturday opening with 3 local surgeries on saturdays for acute complaints.
    fairly pointless exercise as it was just the same patients with their chronic complaints. This ran alongside OOH and the other myriad of WIC that a patient could be seen!

    lets face it even in the face of lack of evidence base, 7 day opening will be steamrollered through at the cost of quality. Definately a harvey dent

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  • Has he ever met any manual workers I wonder? Sounds very patronising to me. Manual workers are not a sub-species who need to be "nannied", they're perfectly capable of sorting out their lives themselves - and are often fitter and healthier than people who sit in offices all day!

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  • How many @unts does this government have ??!!

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  • Why dont employers provide health care in the work place like America,isnt this how Kaiser Permante started,then the employees wouldnt even have to leave the factory!Or they could do what they do to medic worken till they drop!

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  • At first I misread the headline as meaning that the manual workers on an hourly wage fulfilling his vision of a 7 day service would be the GPs themselves.

    Or did I?

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  • How about we remain open all night for shift workers. And why dont we don scuba outfits for North Sea Divers. In fact why dont we visit peoples places of work to save them any effort at all.

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  • We had Sat / late eve/ early am surgeries. But no nurses, no lab facilities, nothing. Only GPs. So, if the poor hourly paid worker needed a TSH or a Fe or FBP or anything, he had to come back another day anyway.
    We folded all of these extra stuff.
    Does not work without other services working as well.

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