Extra hours 'not mandatory'

Practices will not be forced to stay open longer, according to health secretary Alan Johnson.

Answering a parliamentary question last week, Mr Johnson accepted that 'there would be an adverse effect' on quality of care if GPs were forced to open for unnecessary extra hours.

He added that the formula which links extended hours to list size 'takes into account that in many areas, rural areas for instance, there is no demand for GPs to be open longer'.

Mr Johnson also said that the new arrangements 'will benefit patients, the NHS and GPs'.

He told Liberal Democrat MP for Mid Dorset and North Poole Annette Brooke that: 'The system will ensure that the taxpayers' money that is there to incentivise GPs will, and motivate them to open longer. That is what patients in the majority of our communities want'.

jonn.elledge@haymarket.com

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