The British Medical Association (BMA) has warned that the government must address issues around doctor numbers and support services for its extended hours pilot to be successful.
The Prime Minster has recently announced a £50 million funding pot to support a first wave of pilots including:
- 8am to 8pm access, including Saturday and Sunday
- Flexible access and greater user of email, Skype and phone consultations where appropriate
- Easier online registration and choice of practice
- Allowing people to visit a number of GP surgery sites in their area
Dr Chaand Nagpaul, the BMA’s GPs committee chairman warned that if the government proposals were to succeed serious issues over GPs number and support services need to be addressed.
He said: “Without extra GPs, the existing workforce will have to be stretched over seven days, meaning potentially reduced services during the week.
“It will also require additional resources and investment in support and diagnostic staff such as district nurses and access to community care so GPs can meaningfully provide a full service across the week, and it remains to be seen if the money set aside will be enough to deliver this.”
Dr Nagpaul said the BMA was committed to working with the government and would like to see how the pilots work in reality, particularly when it comes to staffing and resources.
In announcing the pilot, Mr Cameron said: “Million of people find it hard to get an appointment to see their GP at a time that fits in with their work and family life.
“We want to support GPs to modernise their services so they can see patients from 8am to 8pm, seven days a week. We also want greater flexibility, so people can speak to their family doctor on the phone, send them an email or even speak to them on Skype.”