GPs split on extended hours

Half of GPs would consider extending opening hours if resources were available but three quarters do not believe it is a good way to spend scarce NHS resources.

Dr Laurence Buckman
The results are from a BMA survey of 11,000 GPs published this week.

GPC chairman Dr Laurence Buckman warned that longer opening hours would not improve patient outcomes.

'It will mean surgeries will have to close during the day, so they can be open in the evening,' he said. 'Fewer daytime appointments will affect the patients who use and need us the most. It would be the elderly, the very young and those with long-term conditions who would lose out.'

The survey painted a gloomy picture of GP morale, with 53.2 per cent saying it had worsened over the past five years.

A total of 63.1 per cent believe changes to the NHS over the past 10 years have made it harder to practise good medicine.

Two thirds of GPs would consider industrial action as long as it did not affect patient care.

Dr Buckman added: 'If we are not very careful, we will have a private health service without continuity, provided by large businesses working from remote premises. We remain to be convinced that that is what our patients want.'

Among other findings from the BMA survey was the revelation that one GP in six is contemplating a career change outside general practice.

Almost 90 per cent of GPs said that both the intensity and complexity of in-hours work had increased since the introduction of the new contract. Seventy-eight per cent believe that the introduction of private-sector providers to primary care will not improve quality of care and 62 per cent believe that alternative-provider medical services contracts poses a major threat to the quality of general practice.

Three quarters expect a decrease in income in 2008/9.

GP views on extended hours

53.3% would consider extending their hours if resourced

72.5% do not believe extended hours improve outcomes.

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