PCT backs down on appointments

An east London PCT has backed down after practices protested about an access target that would require them to increase the number of appointments they offered each week by as much as 50 per cent.

Redbridge PCT agreed last September to set practices a benchmark of 122 routine GP appointments per 2,000 patients per week.

Monthly capacity audits have shown a 17 per cent increase in the number of appointments offered since the target was agreed.

However, GPs have said that the next benchmark of 192 appointments per week by June is not achievable.

Dr David Shubhaker, Redbridge and Waltham Forest LMC chairman, said: 'Access is an issue, and we will help them with it. But this is too much.'

He added that he planned to raise the issue with the GPC.

The PCT now says it has no plans to introduce the higher target for the foreseeable future.

It has also backed down from a proposal that all qualifying appointments must be with a GP, and agreed to consider counting other types of appointments towards the target.

GPC negotiator Dr Chaand Nagpaul said: 'It's for practices to decide how many appointments and what services they provide. The most important measure is patient satisfaction with access.'

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