Exclusive: 25% of GPs refuse extended opening

DoH plans to boost access to general practice are likely to be met by a hard core of resistance, according to an exclusive GP survey.

More than one in four of the 517 GPs surveyed said nothing would encourage them to open for extended hours.

GPs who took part said they valued the end to 24-hour responsibility that the new GMS contract delivered in 2005.

One said: 'No payment or penalties would make me work out of hours again. I did many years on call at nights and weekends. I voted for this contract to get out of out-of-hours and I will never work it again.'

Another said: 'Since stopping out-of-hours after 30 years, I now have a life.'

Health minister Lord Ara Darzi is targeting GP access, with the government wanting half of practices in England to extend their hours.

However, 62.7 per cent of GPs said that they would only open for extended hours if funded, with 21.9 per cent specifying that this extra cash would have to be considerable.

One respondent said: 'I have no objection to extended hours but I need evidence that it will reduce morbidity or mortality. There is none.'

Fifteen per cent thought that patients would like general practice available to them 24 hours a day and seven days a week.

A GP respondent said: 'The demand is probably infinite. Where do you draw the line and how do you provide more hours with the same resources as before without endangering the health of the providers?'

Another added: 'If the government had the courage to re-educate the public rather than bash GPs we wouldn't be having this debate.'

There is some movement, however, with 9 per cent of practices already opening in the evenings or at weekends, the vast majority (77.8 per cent) without additional funding.

Almost half of GPs thought laboratories should open longer if practices did so.

One respondent said: 'Extended hours is not just about access to a GP but about access to the practice team and also to diagnostics, in particular pathology, so these services need to be extended as well.'

Only 14 per cent wanted NHS Direct or NHS24 to take calls during contracted hours to enable practices to open longer.

DoH plans for dual registration, which could mean that patients register both close to home and work, are backed by only 29.7 per cent of GPs, and 73.1 per cent want funding for it if it is introduced. GPs also rejected polyclinics with only 8.7 per cent considering a move to one.

Extended hours
25.8% of GPs said nothing would encourage them to open longer - Source: GP survey.

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