Seven-day GP pilots branded unethical as Yorkshire service set to end

GP leaders have branded the channelling of NHS funds to seven-day services 'unethical', after it was confirmed that a North Yorkshire pilot that struggled to attract patients will be closed.

Dr Beth McCarron-Nash: seven-day cash should be diverted to core GP services (Photo: JH Lancy)
Dr Beth McCarron-Nash: seven-day cash should be diverted to core GP services (Photo: JH Lancy)

A seven-day, 8am to 8pm GP pilot scheme covering 21 practices in NHS Hambleton, Richmondshire and Whitby CCG will be shut down from 30 June after a lack of patient demand.

The RCGP warned that the decision showed that seven-day GP services would not be valued in all areas across England, calling into question prime minister David Cameron’s pledge to roll out seven-day access to GPs nationwide by 2020.

GPC negotiator Dr Beth McCarron-Nash called the decision to spend scarce NHS resources on extending GP opening when core services had been underfunded for a decade was ‘unethical’.

Seven-day GP demand

She said there was anecdotal evidence that seven-day services were struggling to recruit GPs. Where GPs had been recruited they were being stripped out of other local services, Dr McCarron-Nash warned.

‘Holes are opening up in other parts of the service,’ she said. ‘Ethically that is extremely dubious. You are destabilising in-hours services for a service that isn’t even having its slots filled. What a waste of taxpayers’ money.’

RCGP chairwoman Dr Maureen Baker said: ‘Seven-day access to GP surgeries will be used and valued in some areas, but not everywhere, which is why it is essential that CCGs have the autonomy to tailor services to the needs of their local population.

GP resources

‘The prime minister’s Challenge Fund is a welcome source of funding for general practice at a time when resources are scare and we have a severe shortage of family doctors. But GPs should be free to use these resources where they are most needed.’

Julie Warren, locality director for NHS England North (Yorkshire and Humber) said: 'The pilot scheme is currently on-going and due to come to an end on June 30. Conversations are ongoing between the providers and CCGs to identify what has worked well and will continue.

'The aim of this is to take forward the aspects that have been successful so we can provide a better overall service for the patients of Hambleton, Richmond and Whitby.'

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