My role


Now government calls for longer surgery hours

Health Secretary Patricia Hewitt has urged GPs practices to stay open for longer. This is exactly the message that visitors to the MHF's malehealth website gave to the MHF and which the Forum passed on to the government in its submission to the Department of Health's 'Your Health, Your Care, Your Say' consulation.

Hewitt said: 'With banks and supermarkets, they are open 24/7. But patients are telling us with the health service, you either see your GP or, out-of-hours, go to A&E. We need to make sure that GP surgeries become more accessible.'

Malehealth's GP Dr George, who writes a blog for the site, was less enthusiastic. 'In an ideal world this would be great but it is just not possible given the shortage of doctors and nurses in the UK. There are not enough hours in the day. I know there's been millions of extra pounds given to the NHS but most GPs honestly cannot see many extra doctors or nurses in the system. What this means is that we just can't open 24 hours a day to see patients as we are over loaded from 8am to 7pm as it is.'

Dr Hamish Meldrum, chairman of the BMA's GPs committee, also pointed out the financial implication.

'While evening surgeries would suit commuters, they would not suit the needs of young children or the elderly who prefer their practices to be open in the daytime,' he said. 'There are only so many doctors and nurses to go round and clearly there is a limit to the hours each individual can work while still preserving a safe and high quality service for patients.'

Andrew Lansley, shadow health secretary, drew attention the apparent lack of joined-up thinking in the latest announcement. 'Only last year the government agreed a contract with GPs, the result of which was that out-of-hours services were taken out of their responsibility,' he said.

Page created on November 14th, 2005

Page updated on December 1st, 2009