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GP coverage and the NHS crisis

There has been a lot of recent media activity following comments by the Prime Minister, Theresa May, calling for GPs to extend their opening hours at evenings and weekends to alleviate pressure on emergency departments.

Responding to the news, BMA's GP committee chair challenged the assertion that GPs are not already providing seven-day care. Dr Chaand Nagpaul said: “GPs deliver care 24-hours a day, seven days a week, and all GP practices must have measures in place for out-of-hours patient care. Many GP practices already offer evening and weekend appointments, and there are examples where extended opening has been abandoned due to lack of demand. Government funding for extended opening has also been halved in some areas.

“The current crisis in the health service extends well beyond A&Es, with all parts of the NHS, including GP surgeries, working as hard as they possibly and safely can to keep up with demand. Much of the pressure on A&E has nothing to do with general practice: it has to do with seriously ill patients for whom seeing a GP would not prevent a hospital admission. These patients are facing delays in being admitted to hospital because of a chronic shortage of beds, as well as delays in discharging elderly patients due to a funding crisis in community and social care.”

Dr Mark Porter, BMA Council Chair has responded to Theresa May, the letter can be downloaded at the top of the page.