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Seven-day GP support is ‘patchy’ says think-tank

Demand for a seven-day health service appears to be ‘patchy’ and GP support for CCGs is waning, a health think tank has told MPs.

The claims were made by Nuffield Trust in a written response to an inquiry into primary care by the Commons Health Committee.

Nuffield cited as evidence a story published by Pulse in June, which found that CCG leaders had stopped their seven-day GP access pilot after just one in 10 appointments were filled despite ‘considerable promotion’ of the scheme.

It said: ’The evidence on demand for seven-day services is patchy. A recent pilot project in North Yorkshire was suspended following limited demand from patients for GP opening at weekends and a recent evaluation of weekend GP services in Manchester suggested demand was weaker than during the week. Redesigning general practice is likely to be about much more than just changing opening hours.’

The think-tank also said that practices are interested in joining the ‘new models of care’ outlined in NHS England’s Five Year Forward View, which will see primary and secondary care coming together in single organistations.

It said: ’GPs are becoming more involved in the new care models proposed under the forward view, and at the same time their enthusiasm with their CCGs is starting to wane.

‘If we want to reduce our reliance on hospital care – an aspiration that is shared amongst policy-makers and practitioners – investing in well-functioning and sustainable primary care services is vital. Yet we are facing a workforce crisis in general practice, with record numbers of GPs retiring or leaving the profession, and training places unfilled. At the same time, spending on general practice has stagnated, and the potential offered by other professionals, such as pharmacists, to help transform care has not yet been realised.’

 A majority of people report a good experience when they visit their GP, but concerns are mounting about patients’ access to their GP, Nuffield said.

Readers' comments (3)

  • Vinci Ho

    I can see Nuffield Trust is trying to be neutral in its comment BUT(always a but):
    Under such a politically charged atmosphere as the government has not stopped politicising the seven days service , the ethos pursued by the Five Year Forward View (which is ,in principle ,a noble one) is well lost in the mist of a propaganda war .
    I would , however , challenge the 'conscience' of Nuffield Trust to be truthful to the public and outline the real substances and tools required to deliver the final product and hold politicians accountable , to provide the resources and manpower .

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  • Vinci Ho

    I would like to decicate this quote from Harper Lee's latest book(though some people are disappointed and even shocked about Atticus in the book):

    “Every man’s island, Jean Louise, every man’s watchman, is his conscience.”

    Go set a watchman
    Harper Lee

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  • Ivan Benett

    'Redesigning general practice is likely to be about much more than just changing opening hours."Of course it is, and no one has ever said any different. Access during hours extended beyond normal working hours is only part of the solution to making General Practice as a whole more accessible. I think I, and others, have always said so. I'm afraid it's Pulse that has made it a single issue. Yes, Sunday utilisation is less but only as you'd expect from a developing service. Where areas stick with it and make it easier to be seen at weekends, the utilisation increases.
    The ambition is to invest consistently into expanding the capacity in Primary Care, through greater resources and providing a broader range of services, such as more diagnostics, services currently provided by secondary care, and a whole Primary Care team.
    In turn this will relieve pressure on in-hours General Practice and allow GPs more space during the week to deal with long term conditions and provide continuity for those who want it.
    Pulse, isn't it about time you took a positive perspective rather than harping on the negative. It may be popular wither readers, but is some way from the reality.

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