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Welsh Government set to map availability of GP appointments after 5pm

Welsh GP practices are to be audited on their appointments offered after 5pm as part of the Government’s bid to improve GP access to the ‘working population’.

Responding to questioning from the Public Accounts Committee earlier this week (3 December), chief executive of NHS Wales David Sissling agreed to investigate the percentage of GP practices offering appointments after 5pm, and their frequence.

He was also due to look into non-attendance of patients scheduled for appointments, amid the effect this may have on access to appointments.

It comes after a report published in September by the auditor general called for Welsh health boards to work with GPs to agree local standards for access which, once agreed, should then be regularly monitored.

In the report, the auditor general wrote that 69% of patients surveyed found it was easy to get a GP appointment in Wales in the past year, but said more needed to be done to offset pressures on unscheduled care in Wales.

A spokesperson for the Welsh Department for Health and Social Services commented: ‘This is part of our work improve the situation for those who work during office hours and are finding it difficult to access their GP outside business hours. We are asking GPs to look at their practice hours to see if they can extend the appointments past core working hours.’

The news comes after a long-running debate on weekend opening in Wales, which was originally due to force practices to routinely offer appointments on Saturdays from 2014.