Poll: Do you think a seven-day GP service is realistic?

A routine seven-day doctor service is "unrealistic" and could have a serious effect on weekday care, Britain's leading GP has said.

doctor

Professor Helen Stokes-Lampard, chairwoman of the Royal College of General Practitioners (RCGP), said most GPs were working "at the limits of what is safe", with a number failing to keep pace with patient demand.

Making GPs available at the weekend would reduce the availability of doctors to provide patient care during the week, she said.

Prof Stokes-Lampard said: "GPs are working flat out to do the best they can for their patients, but with a severe shortage of family doctors already seeing record numbers of people, there is no way that a seven-day routine service could be delivered without having a serious impact on services through the week.

"Patients can always see a GP through the out-of-hours service when they urgently need one.

"But there is a distinction between 'need' and 'want' and there is very little evidence to show that patients want or need to see a GP for non-urgent care on a Sunday afternoon."

She also told the Guardian: "It's unrealistic in the current climate. We haven't got the people, we haven't got the resources."

Some 1.3 million patient consultations take place in general practice every day, with around 60 million more patients every year compared with five years ago, she estimated.

"But the number of GPs has not kept pace with patient demand and while we are seeing as many patients as we can, patient safety - and doctors' own health - must be paramount," she said.

The Government must invest in general practice so that GPs can provide a safe weekday service, she added.

Prof Stokes-Lampard's remarks came after she warned last month that patients could be forced to wait weeks to see their family doctor as overstretched medics struggle to keep waiting times down during the busy winter period.

If management of patients with chronic diseases is delayed so GPs can "firefight" the urgent patients, the consequences could be "very serious indeed", she said.

A Department of Health spokeswoman said: "This is a common-sense reform with wide public support - and one we will deliver.

"People don't just get ill Monday to Friday, nine to five, and 18 million patients now have weekend and extended access to a GP, which has already shown evidence of relieving pressure on other parts of the NHS.

"To deliver our pledge, we are putting an extra £2.4 billion into GP services, which will help expand the workforce."

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Comments for: "Poll: Do you think a seven-day GP service is realistic? "

Andy

How about small steps?

Starting with some evening and Saturday morning appointments for those of us that work 9-5?

Terry

When I was a child the GP you were registered with would visit whatever day or night of the week.

It is surprising that it is not in some form a seven day service being part funded by our NHS which is a seven day emergency service.

Dabber

Still done in some areas if the GP doesn't sign up for the out of hours coverage.

Having your own GP can have it's benefits and drawbacks. An acquaintance had been back and forth to thier doctor for a recurring issue and been referred to and seen a specialist in that field, an impromptu visit for something else to the GP's led them to seeing a locum who correctly identified the cause and it was resolved within days with the correct medication for the condition.

Roger

We do have a 7 day GP service. & days 24 hours 365 days a year. if you need a GP you can get one. It might not be your preferred GP but in an emergency or urgent care need does that matter?

My surgery has always had Saturday clinics and works on into the evening for appointments out working hours. They are doing more recently.

A&E has always been 24 hr 7 day 365 days a year. We have a "walk-in" clinic for GP things at A&E. and Shrop Doc is located at the hospital and provides out of hours cover.

I am not sure what the fuss is all about.

I think government interference in university course and nurse training is changing things for the worse because the NHS can not recruit and retain staff in these working conditions, but that is the government's choice. What was so wrong in 2010 that we needed the top down reorganisation or any of the headline items we are talking about as cost cutting measures in the NHS.

It is a political choice not an economic necessity and all the problems are the creation of the government. What they mess up they are obliged to fix. We should not be making hard choices or sacrifices on the alter of Tory dogma. Stand back and look what they have done to the NHS which they assured us was safe with them.

What the NHS needs is leadership from the top. IE Government but they are just cutting the budget and leaving everybody else to cut services to match their budget. If they want cuts then they owe it to the public to tell us what they think should be cut and be answerable for it at the ballot box.

ejpl1179

"60 million more patients a year compared with 5 years ago"

60 MILLION? That's almost the whole population of Britain, there are NOT that many more people here than 5 years ago. So where do they get that figure from?

Terry

Brexiteers perchance?

They're pretty good at making up figures regarding emotive subjects, like our NHS!

jim jams

Foreign health tourists from the EU, more likely.

Mr Majestic

Nhs was created for a sizably small population.

The population has increased ie doubled that is why the nhs can now not cope along with lack of money and throwing money at it will not resolve anything as its to costly to run for free.

Charges for crtain things for those in employment need to be brought in .

Mr Majestic

Nhs was created for a sizably small population.

The population has increased ie doubled that is why the nhs can now not cope along with lack of money and throwing money at it will not resolve anything as its to costly to run for free.

Charges for certain things for those in employment need to be brought in .

Nick, Telford

Professor Stokes-Lampard's comments typify the medical profession's dinosaur approach to change and the utter misleading tosh spouted about seven-day cover by GPs. Nobody is suggesting that a GP should be prepared to be on call 24/7, 365 days a year.

What is suggested is that a practice offers such cover on a rota basis in partnership with neighbouring practices, such as existed some 10 years ago before Tony Blair's calamitous reorganisation of the GP service. This would mean a doctor could be on call one weekend in about 12, with compensatory time off immediately following his shift. It's not revolutionary, it was the normal pattern for GPs before their 2005 contract. Indeed, doctors expected to have such a pattern of work when they became GPs.

The immediate benefit would be to reduce the exorbitant sums being paid to out-of-hours agencies. These savings could be diverted to GP practices and improve extra services for patients.

Millions of workers have been forced to alter their working practices in the last 20 years as part of severe spending reviews. It would appear the dinosaurs at the Royal College of General Practitioners feel they are exempt from the financial strictures that apply elsewhere. They cannot see there is a limit on the amount of money available and that it cannot continually be going to private agencies enriching themselves from medical emergencies, with GPs insisting on a Monday-Friday work pattern.