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Seven-day surgery 'wasteful' - BMA

Published 20/06/2015

Dr Mark Porter, chairman of the British Medical Association, says few patients want to visit their GP at the weekend
Dr Mark Porter, chairman of the British Medical Association, says few patients want to visit their GP at the weekend

Government plans to make GP surgeries open seven days a week are "very wasteful" and most patients do not want appointments at weekends, the head of the doctors' union has said.

Dr Mark Porter, chairman of the British Medical Association (BMA) told the Telegraph money would be better spent on alleviating crowded surgeries during the week than the plan being driven forward by Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt.

Mr Hunt announced a recruitment drive yesterday to secure a "dramatic" 10% increase in GPs, in a move to deliver the seven-day service.

Dr Porter told the Telegraph: "When the NHS is on probably the single most relentless drive for efficiencies it has ever been on, I would question whether it is actually a productive use of resources to put GPs practice resource into seeing patients at the weekend when relatively few want to turn up.

"It's really our weekday services that are crying out for investment."

Mr Hunt said he wanted to create flexibility for working patients and allow vulnerable people to have longer appointments, as he encouraged medical graduates to become family doctors.

He added that general practice was more important now than ever before as the NHS faced unprecedented pressures due to its rapidly ageing population and patients with increasingly complex needs.

He told BBC Breakfast: "It's not just about being able to see your GP on a Saturday or a Sunday, it's about being able to make time for vulnerable older patients."

But Mr Porter questioned the cost of opening surgeries for a relatively few patients, telling the Telegraph: "You've got to open and heat the building, employ the staff, you will be employing a receptionist, possibly have a nurse who is there and not seeing patients for checks and immunisations, sitting there yourself thinking, 'I would much rather put the resource where it's really needed during the crowded sessions during the week'.

"It is very wasteful. The very waste the Government is looking to eradicate from the NHS. This is of no help to the majority of patients".

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