Survey reveals little demand for Sunday doctor's appointments

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12th November 2015 12:08 - Health

The most recent General Practice Patient Survey has revealed that more than four in five (80.9 per cent) patients have no problem with Survey reveals little demand for Sunday doctors’ appointmentsexisting doctors’ appointments available to them.

The survey questioned 881,183 people and revealed that just 19.1 per cent of people found the opening times of doctor’s surgeries to be inconvenient. Of this percentage, 73.9 per cent said that Saturday opening would make seeing a doctor easier for them, along with 35.8 per cent who said the same of a Sunday opening.

The analysis of the data was carried out by researchers from the University of East Anglia and the University of Oxford. The report concluded: “Most people do not think they need weekend opening, but it may benefit certain patient groups, such as younger people in full-time work. Sunday opening, in addition to Saturday, is unlikely to improve access.”

Chair of the BMA GP committee, Dr Chaand Nagpaul, said of the research findings:

“These survey findings echo the results of NHS England's pilots for seven-day opening of GP surgeries, which showed extremely poor demand from patients for appointments on Sundays and in many cases on Saturday afternoons.

“This has resulted in precious NHS resources being wasted on keeping near empty practices open and staffed, and has taken GPs away from caring for patients in greatest need. A number of those areas taking part decided to stop providing weekend sessions owing to lack of demand as the cost of providing care during these hours was significantly higher than routine GP practice appointments during the week.”

Chair of the RCGP, Dr Maureen Baker, added:

Not only will it [Sunday opening for GP practices] be of little benefit to our patients - but they themselves do not want it. Our patients have better things to do on a Sunday afternoon than have their ears syringed.

“We hope this research - hot on the heels of the independent evaluation of the first wave of the GP Access fund, which found similar results - will quell the Government’s obsession with seven day working once and for all.”

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