Majority of patients want GPs to run out-of-hours

More than three quarters of the public think GP practices should be responsible for running out-of-hours services, according to a poll.

Out-of-hours care: patients want GP-led service
Out-of-hours care: patients want GP-led service

A survey of 1,000 patients across England and Wales carried out by business consultants KPMG found that 75.9% agreed with the statement: ‘My GP’s practice should be responsible for providing out-of-hours care.'

The results come after months of media debate on the issue sparked by health secretary Jeremy Hunt’s comments that the 2004 GP contract, which allowed GPs to opt out of out-of-hours responsibility, was a major cause of pressure on urgent and emergency care services elsewhere in the health service.

The poll also indicates support for Mr Hunt’s wish for named clinicians to oversee individual patients’ care - a policy now being targeted only at the frail elderly. The poll shows 64.4% agree they ‘want to see my GP, not just any doctor in the practice’.

Opinion on telephone triage and advice services is split evenly despite months of bad press surrounding the chaotic launch of NHS 111, with 50.4% agreeing that they are ‘happy to use the phone or online services’ rather than see a GP.

Meanwhile, 77.1% are happy to see a nurse rather than a doctor where appropriate, and 48.9% believe most patients should be triaged by a nurse before seeing a doctor.

Andrew Hine, UK head of health at KPMG, said: ‘Putting patients at the heart of a revamped NHS must always be the priority, but the changes involved are complex and require changed behaviour by both professionals and patients.

'However hard, the reality is that we must change how healthcare is delivered. We need an increasing range of clinicians to treat us differently in different places and using different technologies. And we as patients need to take our share of the responsibility for care. If these changes are made then the NHS will cope well with the pressures of ill health in a growing and ageing population.  If not, it won’t.’


  • ‘I want to see my GP, not just any doctor in the Practice’: 64.4% agree, 35.6% disagree
  • ‘I’m happy to use the phone or online services available (such as NHS111 or NHS Direct) instead of going to see my GP’: 50.4% agree, 49.6% disagree
  • ‘My GP’s practice should be responsible for providing out of hours care’: 75.9% agree, 24.1% disagree
  • ‘I’m happy to be seen by a nurse, rather than a doctor, where appropriate’: 77.1% agree, 22.9% disagree
  • ‘Most patients should be seen by a triage nurse before seeing a doctor’: 48.9% agree, 40.1% disagree

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