MPs want GPs to work longer10th September 2007
Health Secretary Alan Johnson has said he wants doctors to work extended hours, including evenings and weekends.
Under the terms of the 2004 pay deal, GPs were given the option of working when they wanted.
Mr Johnson said he thought there was a "bit of an anomaly that there is half day closing on Wednesdays and Thursdays and you can't get to see a GP after you leave work.
"Many GPs practices are addressing that and opening on a Saturday morning. We want to see that more widespread."
GPs have protested that working in the evening and at the weekends would mean closures at other times.
When the contract was introduced, 90% of GPs decided to give up the responsibility for the provision of out-of-hours treatment. This has led to the employment of private firms and co-ops in order to cover evening and weekend medical care.
The government is keen to bring back evening and weekend opening so patients can structure their appointments around their working lives. It has set up a group to examine the subject.
Mr Johnson stated his intention to work with the British Medical Association, to make certain the NHS was "fit for the 21st century".
Dr Laurence Buckman, chairman of the BMA's GPs committee, said: "No other professional operates a weekend service."
A recent survey of more than 2 million patients showed over 80% were "happy" with opening hours.
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Title: MPs want GPs to work longer
Author: Jess Laurence
Article Id: 4020
Date Added: 10th Sep 2007