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GPs go forth

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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Readers' comments (33)

  • Mr Stevens should think about all the patients (manual workers or otherwise) in the future who will be unable to get an appointment with a GP on any day of the week because there won't be any GPs left to have an appointment with. This, of course, will be equitable which is what really matters.
    Chief executive of NHSE- clueless, with no understanding of how any health system should run. He should resign

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  • 1. Yes good idea so make more med school places available incentivise people to be gps and then it can be done.
    2. extended hours already covers these people. incentivise practices to do extended hours on sat and eve and they will gladly do it. Still no need to open on sunday though as far as I can tell and if you don't fund surgeries to open they wont many any day of the week as they are forced to shut.

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  • Fool
    I see the same patients on Saturdays that I do in the week, most commenting they couldn't get an appointment with me in the week.
    Firstly, sorting out employment law for the hourly paid manual worker is not a GPs job.
    Secondly wasting money opening weekends to see Mrs Grady again won't give more access to workers.

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  • Vinci Ho

    Ha ha ha
    I am right about Harvey Dent -- Two Face.
    Remember how caring he was yesterday talking about improving health and burnout of NHS staff.
    The politically correct diplomacy has become an incredibly ,dangerously flawed hypocrisy.

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  • Bob Hodges

    Ridiculous, non-evidence based, emotional blackmail.

    Want to co-coerce well meaning GPs into making it easier to privatise the NHS and force primary care into the HMO model? Say it's for the benefit of poor people.

    If that doesn't work, he'll be saying 'Kittens will die' next.

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  • Evidence please. In my poor agricultural area, most people are (poorly) paid manual workers. We tried Saturday morning opening and who did we see? Yes, the very same grey haired adults and snotty children of neurotic mothers we see day in, day out, week in week out. He has literally no idea what we do, with whom, or why. Yet he's pulling the strings. God.

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  • Vinci Ho

    Get the origin and consequence order right please . You are serving a government which is upholding this dangerously flawed employment law and hence it precipitates inequality of health.(By the way , minimum living wage is actually a landslide fallacy)
    So if Saturday and Sunday appointments are to exist , charge a fee and the employers are to foot the bill.
    I dare you to have the guts to even mention that to your 'master',Simon ???

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  • Alternatively, insist upon employees' rights to have reasonable time off for medical matters without incurring loss of income/leave entitlement. Demand good practice from employers rather than speed the destruction of general practice. A good employer should have concern for the health and well-being of his/her workforce and if normal GP attendance cannot be allowed, pay for private care.

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  • Have you read the 5 year forward view ;

    a document of breathtaking stupidity, but it forms the basis of NHS reorganization ( yes the reorganization that isn't according to SS).

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  • How do manual workers get their hair cuts? How does the state make hairdressers open on a Saturday?
    How do these workers attend solicitors?
    How do they deal with plumbing emergencies?
    How do things function without the state paying for it completely and pronouncing what 'should' happen?
    I am confused comrades.

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