Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt has promised additional funding and recruitment to GPs who are prepared to open 7 days a week.
The plan is part of the government’s wider strategy to improve access to healthcare and cut down reliance on A&E and other acute health services.
Mr Hunt’s proposal includes extra investment and help to GP surgeries that are under pressure, along with recruiting 5,000 new GPs and 5,000 support staff and nurses. Other incentives might also be made available to GPs willing to work in deprived areas. In return, GPs will be expected to open at weekends, which will require GP practices to pool together their resources and share the task.
Many however do not feel that weekend opening is the key to improving GP and other community services. Some GP practices already offer weekend appointments and, according to Dr Chaand Nagpaul of the British Medical Association, “pilots of seven-day routine working are increasingly demonstrating a low uptake of routine weekend appointments … the government should focus on supporting practices during the day and further develop the current 24/7 urgent GP service”.
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