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GPs told to prepare for ‘Tesco-style’ seven-day opening

GPs should be prepared to work at weekends for the benefit of patients in an effort to emulate the customer service offered by Tesco, the medical director of the NHS Commissioning Board has said

Sir Bruce Keogh told the Sunday Times that primary and secondary care clinicians should move towards seven-day working. He said the current system is designed for health workers and not patients.

‘Our system has been based around providing as good a working environment as you can for the people who work in the health service, which isn’t necessarily matched with what the people who want services have. If you wanted a day case operation, and you didn’t want to take a day off work, why can’t you have it on a Saturday or Sunday?,’ he said.

‘It seems strange in a way that you cannot go to a clinic at the weekend, you cannot have your day case surgery at the weekend when the rest of the commercial world is going in a different direction.

‘Tesco have had to go through this – it was a complex issue for them. As we think this through, we will need to look at the terms and conditions of service of people – employment conditions.’

A BMA spokesperson said: ‘The health service is not Tesco — I don’t think that is a good comparison. Equally, there are examples around the country where clinics are taking place at weekends.’

She added: ‘The BMA is open to discussing seven-day working. The key issue is flexibility — not all clinics will need [weekend opening].’