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Is the government’s push on seven day health services ill thought?

The government recently announced at the Conservative Party Conference that GPs in England would be offered voluntary contracts to work seven days a week amidst wider significant budget cuts and growing concerns about the future of health services.

Health secretary Jeremy Hunt, unpopular at least amongst junior doctors at the moment, wants seven day GP surgery opening hours with patients able to see a doctor between 8am and 8pm every day of the week.

For those who know all too well how difficult it is to get an appointment at their local surgery, this may appear a positive move making health services more accessible, particularly for those who work full time and prefer to attend to health matters out of work hours.

Behind the controversial headlines however, this is actually nothing substantially new to our existing health services

The suggestion is that groups of GPs get together to form “Federations” to provide weekend cover. The result is that patients may well not get to see their own GP who vitally has access to their full medical records enabling them to better spot any patterns to establish whether more serious conditions are behind symptoms that may appear less significant on their own.

The fact is, seven day health services already exist in the form of Walk-In Centres run by GPs locally to deliver weekend and out of hours services. It seems that even where these “Federations” have been established as part of a pilot they have been under used with 8 out of 14 of the pilot schemes now reducing their hours of service.

The £50 million set aside to fund the initiatives were exhausted last month and even the Royal College of General Practitioners (RCGP) has stated that the proposal for seven day working may harm, rather than aid, patient care.

In order to make a real difference to patient care, particularly to those suffering chronic health problems, access to the patient’s own GP, within their own practice will provide a greater health boost than extending surgery opening hours.

With an ever increasing GP recruitment crisis in this country and ongoing ruthless spending cuts within the NHS, it is difficult to see how this can be achieved.

Linder Myers Solicitors has one of the largest and most experienced team of specialist clinical and medical negligence lawyers in England and Wales. Our team of specialists are readily available to listen to and discuss incidents of negligence.

If you, or someone you know, has been injured due to medical negligence by hospital medical staff, GPs or a pharmacist, please don’t hesitate to contact a member of our team on 0800 085 3295.

Alternatively, please email a summary of your potential claim and contact details to

Find out more about our Medical Negligence department Download our step by step guide to pursuing a medical negligence claim guide


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