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Welsh Government access audit finds 95% of practices open after 5pm

An audit carried out by the Welsh Government into patient access to GP services in Wales after 5pm on weekdays has found almost all practices provide this.

The audit, announced last December and concluded in February this year, found that 95% of GP practices in Wales offered their patients appointments between 5pm and 6.30pm on at least two days a week in 2013, while 94% had done so in 2012.

Meanwhile, the number of practices offering appointments at those times every weekday increased from 63% in 2012 to 76% last year.

The figures were published by the Welsh Government following an audit into late appointments offered by GPs as part of a bid to improve access for the ‘working population’ that was launched last December.

Although mirroring efforts currently pushed by the Government in England, GP opening hours has been a hotly contended issue in Wales for years amid non-realised plans from the Welsh Department of Health to force GPs to routinely open on Saturdays starting 2014.

The debate was revived in earnest in September last year when the Welsh auditor general called for health boards to agree and monitor local standards for access with GPs because more needed to be done offset pressures on unscheduled care in Wales.