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GPs must meet needs of ‘modern Londoners’, claim NHS bosses

GPs face longer working hours to address ‘worrying low satisfaction levels’ in London, after NHS bosses in the capital opened a consultation on patient satisfaction with practice opening hours.

The ‘call to action’ consultation began today and called for patient views on how practices could improve access, quality and continuity of care.

It also said that it would set up a board tasked with developing new standards for GP access and called for an end to the single-handed model of GP provision in the capital, saying it made it more ‘difficult’ to meet public expectations of the service.

The report said: ‘Our health and care services need to radically change to better meet the needs of modern Londoners.’

‘Whilst public confidence in the NHS in London has remained strong, there are some worryingly low satisfaction levels in some services. Patients are telling us they want better access to general practice and they want more services available at weekends.

‘A fundamentally different health service is needed, one capable of meeting modern health needs, with improved quality but broadly within the same resources.

‘[W]e will be seeking your views on how GP services could be strengthened, particularly around access, quality and continuity of care. London is also establishing a clinical and patient board to oversee the development of a set of access standards for general practice in 2013/14.’

It added: ‘Many patients report that they would like to be able to access their GP more quickly when they need to; and see a GP before work, after work or at the weekend.’

The local call for longer opening hours comes after health secretary Jeremy Hunt announced a £50m scheme for a group of ‘pioneer’ GP practices to open until 8pm every day at the Conservative party conference two weeks ago, and as NHS England has indicated that this year’s GP contract negotiations will focus on improving access.

New inspector of general practice Professor Steve Field has also said GPs will be facing scrutiny with regards to the level of access they provide to patients as part of a new CQC inspections regime coming into force from next April.

NHS London further set out a call for the discontinuation of single-handed working in the capital, with the document noting: ‘London has a larger number of single-handed practices than elsewhere in the country and this varies from 5% to 40% across London’s CCGs. Improving access and meeting public expectations is difficult unless this model of delivery is changed.’