GP Surgery Opening Hours Don't Need Extending, Say People Who Can Actually Make Appointments

By Aatif Sulleyman on at

A freshly-released survey suggests we’re happy with the current operating hours of GP surgeries, and that a Sunday service isn’t in particularly high demand. The news comes as David Cameron aims to establish seven-day GP practices by 2020, with researchers from the University of East Anglia and the University of Oxford branding the move unnecessary.

They gathered feedback from 800,000 patients across England (probably on a weekday), finding out that 81 per cent of respondents are satisfied with current opening times. Of the 19 per cent who weren’t so pleased, three quarters were in favour of weekend opening, and of that group, another three quarters called for the introduction of a Saturday service, rather than a Sunday one.

According to the stats, young people, full-time workers and people who struggle to get time off work are most in favour of weekend hours. Meanwhile, the elderly and people suffering from long-term illnesses, such as Alzheimer’s and diabetes, are pretty happy with the arrangements as they stand.

The government reckons seven-day GP surgeries would reduce pressure on A&E staff, but doctors say the move doesn’t match up with what patients actually want, and would represent a big, fat waste of resources. "General practice is facing huge challenges in terms of workload and workforce, so we need to think carefully about where to spend precious resource," said Dr John Ford, the lead researcher from UEA's Norwich Medical School. "We should also remember that currently it is possible to see a GP out of hours over the weekend for urgent problems." [BBC]