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Seven-day access to GPs for all patients, promises PM

Everyone will be able to access a GP practice seven days a week - from 8 ‘til 8 - by 2020 if the Conservatives are returned to power at the next election, the PM promised today.

David Cameron said that he wanted the public to be able to see a GP at a time that ‘suits them and their family’.

He pledged £400m in ‘set up costs’ spread over the next five years to enable everyone to access a GP for 12 hours a day, every day.

The pledge comes a year after Mr Cameron announced a £50m ‘Challenge Fund’ for 1,000 GP practices to trial seven-day opening in a blaze of publicity at the 2013 Conservative Party conference.

He said that a second wave of practices would be invited to bid for a £100m fund in 2015/16 to also open seven-days a week.

The Department of Health said earlier this year that any further rollout would be dependent on the ‘success of the first wave’ of the 20 pilot schemes that were given 12 month’s worth of funding from April this year. But Pulse recently revealed that many had not yet started.

The relatively modest amount of funding suggests the scheme may operate as a ‘hub and spoke’ model, such as an established scheme in Manchester that may have contributed to a reduction in A&E attendance.

The Prime Minister said: ‘People want to be able to see their GP at a time that suits them and their family. That is why we will make sure that everyone can see a GP seven days a week by 2020.

‘We will also support thousands more GP practices to stay open longer - giving millions of patients better access to their doctor.’

This announcement means that GP access will form a central battleground between the two major parties during the next election. It comes after the Labour Party promised £100m to bring back the 48-hour GP appointment target and the right to an urgent appointment within 24 hours.

GPs and leading academics have already warned that extending GP access in this way will make general practice more overstretched and could subsequently reduce the continuity of patient care.

A Pulse survey in April revealed that more than half of GPs believe that the Government’s move towards seven-day GP access will negatively affect the safety of patient care.

GPC chair Dr Chaand Nagpaul said: ‘This announcement fails to grasp the reality of a GP service struggling under extreme strain and without the capacity to meet current demands, resulting in patients already waiting too long to see their GP.

‘We are witnessing a workforce crisis of falling recruitment, rising early retirement, as well as funding cuts threatening the viability of many practices. If the Government has new money it should use it to address the immediate pressures facing practices that are preventing GPs from being able to provide patients with the time and care they need. The BMA’s GPs committee has accordingly put to Government a range of short-term measures to sustain general practice at this difficult time.’

 

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  • Prime Minister David Cameron


Readers' comments (83)

  • bhakwaas

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  • Now in my area there is an out of hours company - that sees patients 7 days a week. They are available a lot longer than 8am to 8pm. They will see anyone who needs to see them.

    With that in mind I think this story is nonsense. 400 Million is about 3.6-7.6 Billion short of the absolute minimum requirement to give patients what they want (and what they think they will be getting from this announcement).

    He would get more respect if he was just honest about the situation.

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  • All people after the next election will be fed more lies as the Politicians look to make 25 billion more in savings, and the promises they make now to get re-elected will be forgotten or changed.

    Election manifestos are full of half truths which are 1% likely to be followed through, so Politicians as essentially full of Excrement.

    Wish there were politicians who were bribed by lobbyists funding into selling out the UK to Private companies, and the new US trade agreement will be a final nail in the coffin for the NHS - privatisation will slowly creep in as more contracts given out to tender.

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  • Australia ?

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  • £6.50 / patient / year for 30% more opening hours?
    They live in complete lalalalala land.

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  • Vinci Ho

    So we to be sold to help the Tories to win the next election .
    Extreme shortage of GPs and practices( as closure continues) are obviously not to be mentioned in this conference .
    Ladies and gentlemen , use your common sense.

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  • Vinci Ho

    People deserve to know and understand the truth and honesty of these politicians.
    What is going on in Hong Kong right now is not a result of one day argument .........

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  • Bob Hodges

    Why can' these idiots differentiate between 'their GP' and 'a GP' when talking about 'weekends'? Any thoughts of GPs working 7 days a week are as stupid as they would be illegal.

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  • Political expediency playing with our livelihoods. And what makes this even worse is that this a ploy to try to re-elect the most NHS hostile government since 1948.

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  • Vinci Ho

    A desperate man with desperate words:
    A Chinese saying : enemies from all four directions-
    Labour on the front
    Backstabbing from UKIP
    Sleeping with another enemy , Lib Dem
    Most importantly , opposed by grassroot people.
    The Tories have just declared war on our profession.

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