Cookie policy notice

By continuing to use this site you agree to our cookies policy below:
Since 26 May 2011, the law now states that cookies on websites can ony be used with your specific consent. Cookies allow us to ensure that you enjoy the best browsing experience.

This site is intended for health professionals only

At the heart of general practice since 1960

No point funding seven-day GP appointments if no uptake, NHS chief admits

GP practices should not be expected to open at weekends if there is no demand for it, the head of the NHS in England has conceded under questioning from MPs.

Grilled about the poor uptake of Sunday appointments in pilots of the Government’s flagship seven-day access scheme, NHS England chief executive Simon Stevens said practices should not be forced to open ‘if there is not a need or uptake’ for routine appointments.

Mr Stevens made the comments in a Commons Health Committee hearing this morning, after Dr Philippa Whitford, MP for Central Ayrshire, quoted Pulse’s investigation revealing that a quarter of the Prime Minister’s flagship seven-day access pilots have dropped Sunday opening because of lack of demand.

Mr Stevens responded that ‘we’ve got to shape that based on where there is need and there is uptake’.

He added: ‘If there is not a need or uptake for particular modes or times, then obviously that’s not where we’re going to put all our eggs.’   

However, Mr Stevens insisted routine seven-day access remained part of the solution to relieving pressure on acute A&E services.

He said evidence from the first wave of the GP access fund, or Prime Minister’s Challenge Fund, showed that increasing routine GP access ‘does reduce the attendance rates in A&E departments’.

And he added that while improvements in urgent care and more seven-day hospital services were needed to reduce avoidable excess hospital mortality at weekends, ‘over and above that, there is this third question of how to ensure people who working during weekdays are still able to access the health service for planned appointments’.

GPC deputy chair Dr Richard Vautrey said: ‘It’s good that Simon Stevens is listening to our concerns and recognising that widespread roll out of routine seven-day GP services is neither needed nor wanted in many areas. It’s also questionable as to whether it is the right thing to do anywhere when there are far greater priorities facing the NHS and social care.’

Pulse revealed that CCGs were already abandoning the access pilots back in May, because of a lack of demand for weekend appointments and threats to other parts of the service.

However, despite further CCGs giving up on the pilots, health secretary Jeremy Hunt reiterated plans for seven-day services last week in a speech where he also said he would impose weekend working in the junior consultants’ contract.

Mr Hunt, who has exerienced a backlash from doctors following the speech, also said he had ‘yet to meet’ one who does not want to move to seven-day working.

Related images

  • Simon Stevens - online


Readers' comments (17)

  • Reduce pressure on A+E by asking GP's to hold clinics there . Pay them accordingly -£ 200 /hr . Job done .

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • "And he added that while improvements in urgent care and more seven-day hospital services were needed to reduce avoidable excess hospital mortality at weekends, ‘over and above that, there is this third question of how to ensure people who working during weekdays are still able to access the health service for planned appointments’."

    Perhaps by telling people they can triple their national insurance or take some responsibility and consider their duty to their society and use the service appropriately i.e. if not an emergency, take time off work and see GP during normal working day?

    Mind you Mr Hunt doesn't get this concept as he's take his children to AED for trivial illness that could have been dealt by OOH.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • there has never been any evidence that access to primary care services reduces A/E attendance.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • Careful now, Mr Stevens! You don't want to go setting a precedent for not obliging GPs to do things that are a complete waste of time and money. Who knows what else we might end up not doing? We might even find time on our hands to waste on unfashionable activities like making poorly people better.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • Please tell Jezza Stevo

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • the headline is misleading. He may say this but then ignores what he has said by going on about 7 day access and making up facts about reducing a+E pressures. nonsense. He could be a politician, never let a good sound bite get in the way of the real facts.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • Have heard from sources high up in NHS England that this guy is divorced from reality in the same way Hunt is,both a pair of fruitcakes

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • Maybe even simple Simon has a modicum of sense
    He should remember he is responsible for cost efficient use of tight nhs resources ... Introducing any non evidence based wasteful scheme is culpable for directly causing human suffering
    The electorate is watching you.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • he is as much a politician as agent Hunt. They have an agenda. He worked for United Health, who does Hunt work for?

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • "practices should not be forced to open ‘if there is not a need or uptake’ for routine appointments.

    However, Mr Stevens insisted routine seven-day access remained part of the solution to relieving pressure on acute A&E services."

    In other words "we won't do it if there is no need for it, but I say there is a need for it so we are going to do it"

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

View results 10 results per page20 results per page

Have your say