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GPC 'happy to discuss' extended GP opening hours, says Nagpaul

Exclusive The GPC would be ‘happy to discuss’ an extension to current GP opening hours where ‘appropriate’, Pulse can reveal.

The Government has pledged seven-day GP appointments for all by 2020 but GPC chair Chaand Nagpaul has previously said this was a ‘political pipe dream’ which ‘must be abandoned’.

In an exclusive interview with Pulse, Dr Nagpaul said the GPC is ‘not entertaining’ the way in which the Government is implementing seven-day opening but that it would discuss ‘some level of approprate extended opening hours’.

He said this would likely entail GP practices spreading the burden by offering extra appointments jointly via networks of practices but that the GPC would be opposed to rolling it out in areas with ongoging recruitment problems.

Asked under what circumstances he would support seven-day opening, Dr Nagpaul said: ‘We’re not entertaining the way in which the government is implementing seven-day opening. What we are saying is that we’re happy to have a discussion around some level of appropriate extended opening hours, especially within a networked arrangement.

According to Dr Nagpaul, the stance is based on the opinions of grassroots GPs but comes with the caveat that it has to be ‘properly resourced’ and not become a ‘luxury service’ where it was not a clinical priority.

He said: ‘That’s the response we have got from GPs on the ground, that this something they are not adverse to looking at, but the idea of opening on a Sunday afternoon when there isn’t need is something we would not be supporting.

‘It has to be appropriately resourced and logistically possible. If you have an area that’s suffering recruitment problems, the priority there should be to secure core general practice services, not divert those services into what could be seen as a luxury service. So we do need to be sensitive about this, tailor it to local needs and not have a blanket approach.

The comments come after health secretary Jeremy Hunt alienated GPs and hospital doctors alike with comments earlier in the summer claiming the lack of seven-day access was leading to higher death rates on the weekend - claims at which the BMA has since fiercely hit back by accusing the Government of focusing on grabbing headlines rather than improving the NHS.

Mr Hunt’s comments, which included a claim he had ‘never met’ a doctor who did not want seven-day working, have now prompted over 200,000 signatures to a petition for his removal from office, have also been used by healthcare recruiters to attract doctors to leave the NHS and come work ‘four-day weeks’ overseas.

A Pulse investigation revealed that a quarter of seven-day opening pilots have already cut hours due to a lack of demand and NHS England chief executive Simon Stevens has admitted that there is ‘no point’ funding seven-day appointments where there is no uptake.

Readers' comments (33)

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  • Fund out of hours better.Do not spread the jam thinner than it is now you wont even taste it.

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  • No. No. No
    Who teaches these people negotiations skills.

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  • "That’s the response we have got from GPs on the ground..." - really? I didn't see that survey. Before hastening the destruction of all that is good about general practice, can we not base negotiation on something more concrete than what appears to be a vague impression?

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  • as part of contract negotiations: please discuss crown indemnity cover.
    its ridiculously high. a jump > 20% this year. If I say I want to do OOHs then it would have gone up further.

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  • if there is any increase in our core hours, our surgery will close. I am sure this will be replicated throughout the country and this will be the easiest way to destruct general practice in the country overnight. or may be that will be a good thing when the government realise once and for all we will not put up with their nonsense...even if the gpc agreed it on our behalf. Resilient GP to negotiate on our behalf anyone?

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  • Resilient GP is a joke

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  • I don't understand
    I'm already at work from 8am until 8pm (10:30 last night)
    You want that extending?
    The phones stop at 18:30 It is the only time I can do work that requires no interruptions. What time will I be able to leave for home?
    Anyone who works in general practice will recognise these patterns of working. Which is why I ask "Why is anyone entertaining this?" There needs to be one answer "no".
    Why is the BMA so averse to representing our views. Do they not realise the role of a proper trade union?
    Do you think Bob Crowe would have entertained this rubbish?

    The BMA is a second rate trade union. They do not have the burden of having to ask the members to decide who will be our leaders.

    We need a change of leaders in the BMA.
    We need to have the right to pick our leaders.
    When the head of the BMA is chosen it should be all members one vote.

    The BMA was shown to be poorly representing its members views during the debacle of MMC.

    I thought then they may become a democratic organisation.
    How silly!

    They are walking into another disaster again.
    This is a problem that would be solved by a little democracy and the representation of member's views.

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  • I think GP's need to get behind the GPC, they're being undermined by local projects and the GP community needs to understand that the various new models need GMS to disappear.

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  • Vinci Ho

    This is war. In time like this,everybody as the opposition,can easily hold very different opinions . That probably explains why opposition groups are prone to further 'cell divisiona'. History rewrites itself many times but as always, one has to recognise one single common enemy.
    This is a Chineses saying ,
    seek common points while reserving difference(求同存異).......

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