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Independents' Day

Seven-day opening is not the answer

I don’t need to see my GP to discuss my piles at 7.30pm on a Sunday – it can wait, writes Dr Peter Swinyard

We must put a halt to this 24/7 mentality which is led by want, not by need (‘GPs plan trials of seven-day opening to combat A&E crisis’). I don’t need to see my GP to discuss my piles at 7.30pm on a Sunday – it can wait. Neither solicitors nor accountants work seven-day weeks, so why should we?

We need good services for unscheduled care but there are not enough GPs to cover today’s needs, and not enough in training to fill the gaps as us old chaps race for the exit. But politicians lack the will to say no.

The doctor-patient relationship is more than the customer-Tesco cashier relationship. Without demand control, the NHS will go bankrupt.

From Dr Peter Swinyard, chair of the Family Doctor Association, via

Readers' comments (4)

  • "Neither solicitors nor accountants work seven-day weeks, so why should we?"

    Er, because people get ill every day?

    And I think you'll find solicitors engaged in criminal law do provide services every day.

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  • Anon above. Anyone who falls ill outside "normal" surgery hours of 08.00am to 18.30pm can already access the out of hours service, despite the government spreading rumours that there is no access to a GP outside 9.00am to 5.00pm. I have colleagues who work in the out of hours service and they have received calls from patients at 03.00am wanting to be seen urgently with threadworms and headlice! They have calls EVERY night from patients requesting "emergency" scripts because they have either lost their medication or forgotten to request it from their surgery routinely.These are NOT emergencies, and do not even warrant telephone advice, never mind an emergency appointment. Primary care is not currently funded to provide routine health care overnight nor at weekends, nor is it likely to be in the future. I have never agreed with the policy of charging for appointments during normal working hours, but if a patient with a non urgent issue wishes to be able to choose to be seen at some ridiculous hour they should have to pay for the privilege.

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  • Agree with the above. No-one resents seeing people with genuinely urgent need outside normal hours. Solicitors working in criminal law are on call out of hours for urgent matters (e.g someone's been arrested), not for routine problems or advice, and so are GPs. We need to educate the public as to what constitutes an urgent problem and this is not being addressed.

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  • There are two quite separate issues being conflated here. One is the need for a more flexible and patient focused service that allows for access outside of the usual 5 day service. This will allow those people with real health needs to get help. The other is about the seemingly unabated demand by a significant minority of people for inappropriate access to services, a demand contunually fuelled by the consumerist approach to health care - get what you want at any time you want it. This is very different and is about educating people (staff and public) about the difference between want and need.

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