Pilot to extend opening hours at GP surgeries from 8am to 8pm - but what do you think?
- Credit: PA
GPs' surgeries should be open from 8am until 8pm, seven days a week, David Cameron said as he announced a £50 million trial to encourage longer opening hours.
Up to half a million patients are expected to be covered by a pilot project in areas across England as the Government seeks to improve access and cut the pressure on stretched A&E departments.
Almost one in five patients in a recent NHS survey said inconvenient appointments were a concern, with more than 70pc backing weekend and after office hours opening.
Under the scheme being unveiled at the Conservative Party conference in Manchester, the extra cash is being offered to groups of GPs proposing the most effective ways to improve access.
As well as extended surgery hours, ministers hope they will pioneer more effective use of technology - such as carrying out consultations with patients via video calls, email and phone.
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Electronic prescriptions, online appointment booking and allowing people to visit a number of different surgeries across an area are also measures being sought from the first wave.
Mr Cameron said: 'Millions 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.
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'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.'
The first pilot projects are due to be operating by April 2014.