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Public in support of seven-day GP access, poll claims

The majority of the public is in favour of the Government prioritising seven-day GP services, a new poll has claimed, despite reports that commissioners are abandoning schemes due to poor take-up.

The research, carried out by YouGov for upcoming health and social care conference Health+Care and Commissioning, revealed that the highest priorities for the general public are care for the elderly and access to GPs at weekends, indicating support for greater access to seven-day services.

But it comes as Pulse reported one of the first areas funded under the Prime Minister’s Challenge Fund scheme will pull the plug on its seven-day access pilot at the end of this month, after only four months of full operation, because only one in 10 appointments was filled.

The online survey asked 2,052 adults to score which areas the NHS should prioritise over the next five years from a range of options.

Some 57% of respondents voted for care for the elderly while access to GPs at weekends was supported by 54%.

Care closer to home was scored by 51%; prevention strategies, such as tackling issues like smoking and obesity, got support from 46% of respondents.

Greater use of technology, like Skype consultations, only garnered support from 27% of participants.

Seven-day access will be one of the topics discussed at the Health+Care and Commissioning conference, which is taking place tomorrow and Thursday in London.

Dr Michael Dixon, chair of NHS Alliance, will tell the conference: ‘Commissioners now need to explore exactly what sort of access patients actually want, and whether this is just for unscheduled conditions – and can be with any local GP thus preventing unnecessary hospital use – or whether patients and public are asking more than this at a time of limited manpower and resources.’

Earlier this month Pulse revealed NHS Hambleton, Richmondshire and Whitby CCG – one of the first areas funded under the Prime Minister’s Challenge Fund scheme – will pull the plug on its seven-day access pilot at the end of this month.

CCG leaders say the pilot was not a good use of resources as only 12% of appointments on Sundays were filled and less than 50% of slots booked on a Saturday.

Pulse revealed CCGs in some areas of the country were also rethinking their extended-access plans due to lack of demand and cost-effectiveness.

Readers' comments (15)

  • Vinci Ho

    Correct me if I am wrong
    From a point of being a customer , if you do a questionnaire asking whether a customer service should be available for 7 days access , I would always say yes. Hence , I expect the percentage of people saying so even in a small survey involving 2052 would be over 95%. Why was it ending with only 54% , just over half? Bear in mind the way the questions being asked matters a lot and remember what happened to all these poll results of prediction just before this recent general election !)
    The simple logical deduction is (1) GP service is not a customer service (2) there is a significant number of respondents in the survey already understanding the true implications of forcing 7 days GP access . Ironically, people/patients ,somehow,have been 'educated' to recognise the limits and disadvantages of doing so.

    As I said before , this is one of the three fronts of this war needing anti-spinning against propaganda media. Thank you Pulse to report this for us to debate.

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  • Customers have wants and patients have needs. They require seperate systems and not the muddled mess we have at the moment created by politicians too scared to point this out.

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  • How about asking the question:
    Would you like your practice to cancel 150 appointments during the week in order to offer 100 at the weekends?

    This is what politicians need to ask with a fixed, declining, budget.

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  • Can we do a survey asking the public if they would want to pay the additional tax to pay for these services-if so then make it so and dedicate the revenues to the service.
    also maybe stop treating GPs and trainees like turds and they might be more amenable to the idea?

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  • What a worthless piece of excrement survey.

    Would you like GPs to be open 24/7/365? Yes

    Would you like supermarkets to hand out your weekly shopping for free? Yes

    Would you like tax rate to be zero% Yes

    Would you like Britain to have a Mediterranean climate? Yes

    The population will answer yes to any question with a nice answer.
    A proper survey that wasn't so biased to hell and back as that one was to get the corrupt answer that it wanted, would instead have asked "how much extra are you prepared to pay in taxes or top up fees for a weekend service?"

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  • If the public want it they need to pay for it,oh sorry it already exisits it called GP out of hours and should be funded properly,but that would be to easy wouldnt it Mr *unt.

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  • agree with all the above.
    There is access to GPs at the weekend if you need them. I want access to a massage therapist at 3am when I cannot get back to sleep; if so I'd expect to pay a fortune until then a podcast on a very dull subject suffices!

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  • Quite right but it's the famous "free beer question." Would you like free beer on Mon-Fri or free beer at weekends too? Still, heartening they only got 54%.

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  • ok - but are they going to pay for it?

    it's the wrong tactic (again) for the bma / rcgp to say the public don't want it as politicians will always find a group to support them and parade that view on the media.

    what we should say is - ok if you want it then you will have to pay for it and other services will suffer.

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  • We should all pay 5 pounds a month, find a couple of good-looking, intelligent and charismatic GPs and buy air time on the major TV channels. Or even better, create a dysfunctional reality TV show. public won over, job done. Booking dot YEAH

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