GPs have been accused of petulance in their stance on the government’s promise to make surgery hours more employer-friendly.
Business lobby group the CBI said the British Medical Association (BMA) was being “particularly whingey” in refusing to bow to calls to open later.
“Let’s face it, turkeys don’t vote for Christmas,” a CBI spokesman told Personnel Today. “This is about them saying ‘we don’t want to work weekends or evenings’. But it should not be about them it should be about what is best for patients.”
The CBI is keen for GPs to see staff near work and outside nine-to-five working hours, warning that 3.5 million working days were lost last year because of GPs’ inflexible surgery hours. But GPs are angry that health secretary Alan Johnson did not consult them before he promised to make half of them open on weekday evenings or Saturday mornings.
A BMA spokeswoman said: “Doctors feel that they are being attacked through the media, rather than being spoken to directly. It is not a good way to negotiate, and it has definitely got things off to a bad start.”
The CBI agreed the government had handled the issue badly – but insisted it was time for GPs to change. “The strength of the reaction from health unions suggests the government could have done more behind the scenes to prepare the ground, but the reaction does also seem disproportionate to what is being asked,” said the spokesman.
No hovernment targets for extended opening
Derby City Primary Care Trust has convinced just one surgery to extend its weekday opening hours – and insists the government has not set more ambitious targets.
Debbie Jackson, associate director at the trust, told Personnel Today that she had not been given any specific directions by the government, despite the fact that health secretary Alan Johnson announced that he had asked trusts to make sure half of GPs opened on a weekday evening or every Saturday morning.
Jackson said: “There has not been any direct consultation on the issue of targets. I am not aware that it has come down to a specific target. We will look at extending opening hours only where it is appropriate.”
Derby’s Normanton Medical Centre will open until 8pm from November, but will not receive extra money for doing so.