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GPs give up providing extended hours

GP practices are increasingly finding their extended-hours surgeries are unviable, suggest new figures from a survey conducted by the Labour party.

The figures show a 5.7% drop in the number of GP practices offering appointments outside normal working hours in the past year.

Labour collated figures from 91 of England’s 151 PCTs and found that more than half – 56% – reported a decrease in the number of practices offering extended opening hours.

NHS Hartlepool had the biggest drop in practices offering extended hours, with 31% reducing their opening hours. NHS Newcastle and NHS Haringey both reported that almost a quarter of practices do not offer extended opening hours.

Andy Burnham MP, Labour’s shadow health secretary, said the figures showed the effect the NHS reforms were having on patient care.

He said: ‘The Government’s calamitous decision to reorganise the NHS has taken eyes off the ball and allowed the system to drift.

‘Its decision to stop the national monitoring of GP opening hours sent out the wrong signal, and now patients are paying the price.’

A spokesperson for the Conservative party told BBC Online that the claims were ‘more than a bit rich’, adding: ‘It was [Labour’s] disastrous GP contract that meant that 90% of surgeries stopped offering this service altogether.’