GP surgeries embrace flexible hours and help government hit target

More than half of GP surgeries now offer extended hours for medical check-ups.


Statistics from the Department of Health found that in the past six months there had been a 40% increase in the number of practices offering more flexible early morning, evening and weekend opening times.


Of 8,275 practices surveyed, more than 4,250 offered extended hours, hitting a government target of getting half of all surgeries open for longer by the end of 2008.


Health minister Ben Bradshaw said he was pleased and ‘surprised’ at the response from GPs.


He said patients would ‘vote with their feet’ and move to surgeries that offered more convenient opening hours and that, in turn, would encourage more practices to offer extended hours.


In February, health secretary Alan Johnson wrote to every GP in England asking them to see patients at evenings and weekends in a bid to reduce the amount of time lost to sickness absence.

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