Exclusive: 25% of GPs refuse extended opening

DoH plans to boost access to general practice are likely to be met by a hardcore of resistance as a quarter of GPs said they were against extended hours, an exclusive GP survey reveals.

More than one in four (25.8 per cent) 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 brought in 2005.

A respondent said: ‘No payment or penalties would make me work out of hours again. I did many years on call nights and weekends. The only reason I voted for this contract was to get out of out of hours and I will never work them 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 for practices to open longer.

GPs are concerned about whether patients need extended hours but 61.8 per cent thought patients wanted them.

One respondent said: ‘I have no objection to extended hours but I need evidence that it will reduce morbidity/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?’

neil.durham@haymarket.com

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