NHS cannot afford seven-day services, public believes

Two thirds of the public believe the NHS cannot afford a seven-day service, a BMA survey has revealed.

BMA: poll of general public reveals seven-day NHS concerns
BMA: poll of general public reveals seven-day NHS concerns

A major opinion survey by the doctors' union revealed serious concerns among over government plans to expand services, including GP practice hours, into evenings and weekends.

The government has pledged that every patient in England will have access to a GP from 8am to 8pm weekdays and at weekends.

Prime minister David Cameron has said England could be the ‘first country in the world to deliver a truly seven-day NHS’.

Seven-day NHS services

BMA consultant committee chairman Dr Paul Flynn said that doctors supported more seven-day hospital services, but that the government should outline how they will fund them. 

‘At a time when the NHS is facing a £22bn funding shortfall, many hospitals are in the red, and weekday services are under strain, the government must explain how it plans to expand services by up to 40% across the week. The public do not believe the NHS can afford it right now, and are clear that it should not come at the expense of weekday services.’

The BMA poll of 2,041 adults in England revealed:

  • 68% do not believe the NHS can currently afford to deliver seven-day services in hospitals

  • 84% say delivering seven-day services should not mean fewer services are available during the week

  • 83% say weekend services should not mean fewer doctors are available during the week

  • 87% believe that doctors alone cannot deliver seven-day services and that a full range of support staff and services must also be in place

  • 85% believe social care must also be available at weekends

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