Gordon Brown to open general practices at weekends

Gordon Brown has outlined wide-ranging policies which include plans to open general practices during weekends and ensure GPs are on call in the evenings.

Gordon Brown: Out-of-hours opening for general practices
Gordon Brown: Out-of-hours opening for general practices

These plans would mean that patients would not have to wait for appointments during working hours.

Dr Hamish Meldrum, chairman of the BMA's General Practice Committee said: 'We are always open to discussions and I will be writing to Gordon Brown about his reported statements on access to general practice. I will be reminding him of the reasons his government agreed the new contract. It was to address the severe workforce shortage and low morale among GPs. Recruitment is improving but we still have a long way to go. There has not been a significant increase in whole-time GPs since the new contract, although we do have more part-time GPs.

'Longer opening hours is a workforce issue. Family doctors have already pulled out all the stops to deliver top quality services to patients under the new contract, but their work is intensive and much more complex than in the past as more procedures previously done in hospitals transfer to GP surgeries. There would have to be a significant increase in the number of GPs, practice nurses, and all the other practice staff, to cover longer opening times, along with all the back-up diagnostic services needed to make general practice work efficiently.'

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