Prior to the pandemic, NHS England agreed that GPs would need to offer appointments between 9-5 on Saturdays and weekday evening appointments between 6.30pm to 9pm to make it easier for patients to get appointments.
There has been much criticism of the current system whereby most GP surgeries offer appointments on a day-by-day basis causing a surge in telephone queueing from as early as 8am only to be informed that all the appointments have been booked for that day and you must start the whole process again the following day.
From 1st October 2022, GPs have been told that they must now implement these new appointments, as well as being encouraged to offer more face-to-face appointments. The British Medical Association, who are the doctor’s union, have criticised this decision and argue that it fails to address the current pressures faced by GP’s caused due to the pandemic – issues which weren’t as prevalent in 2019 when the increase in primary care services was discussed.
It is hoped that increased access to primary care, including physiotherapists, nurses and pharmacists, will encourage more people to be able to access services and seek advice for issues such as potential cancer diagnosis and important general health checks and screening.
Most industries have had to adapt to the change in traditional lifestyles and modify their working practices to accommodate and suit the needs of their customers so it seems right that this should apply to the healthcare setting too. However, this will only work if there are enough GPs and other healthcare professionals who are available to service these additional hours.
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