Liz Kendall MP (Lab, Leicester West), told delegates at the NHS Alliance annual conference in London that ‘the best GP services’ already understood they had to extend access, and wanted to do so.
‘In the 21st century, when people can get access to all sorts of other services outside of normal working hours and at the weekends, if the NHS is going to retain public support and public money, it’s going to have to change,' she said.
Asked whether patients should be allowed to pay a fee to see their GP on the weekend, Ms Kendall said fees were wrong because they would exclude those who could not afford them.
Ms Kendall pointed out the last Labour government introduced incentives for practices to open evenings and weekends.
‘The best GP practices look at what their patients say, they ask them when are the best opening hours for you, can we change the way that we work. And they respond to that.’
‘The best providers understand how people’s working lives and family lives are changing and respond to that.’