7 day GP service once scrapped by the Government may now be back in favour.
7 Day GP service – what is it?
The Governments plans to have seven-day access for GP’s has not quite come to an end. The pilot scheme was scrapped after just one in 10 appointments were filled.
The plan was to open longer so that patients could be seen without long waits, booking in advance and when convenient at a weekend.
Quite who would man the surgery and at what cost did not seem to figure so highly. The desire to introduce such changes meant that although the pilot scheme was scrapped plans are still afoot.
The Guardian reported that it could cost the NHS £3bn a year.
The Pulse reported that pilot in NHS Hambleton, Richmondshire and Whitby CCG would end after only four months of full operation. Only 12% of appointments were filled on Sundays and less than 50% on Saturday. The feedback also showed that patients did not like the ‘hub’ model and wanted to be seen by their own practice.
How much did it cost?
The first wave of pilots cost £50 million for 2014/15 and a second wave is being rolled out this year to the tune of £100 million. The Open for Longer Scheme will now close in those areas. Lack of popularity with patients is seen as the main reason and it was unpopular because patients simply wanted to be seen at their own practice by their own GP.
If anything the investment has been an expensive exercise in establishing that demand for GP services is already being met and that the public are broadly happy with the current opening hours. Perhaps if the appointment system could be improved further satisfaction would follow. Ths is what the Government plans to improve by pushing on with the 7 day GP service.
So what now?
Nevertheless plans remain to introduce a 7 day GP service. Ministers have promised that by 2020, people will have access to GPs seven days a week. They have pledged 5,000 extra doctors to help achieve that.
Set out in a press release the Government further set out is committment to 7 day working. Click here for details.