Senior HR professionals have called for major changes to the way GPs operate.
They want family doctors to make themselves more available to their patients by opening outside of normal working hours and cutting waiting times.
A CBI report last week said that poor GP services were costing millions of working days each year, damaging the economy as well as people’s health.
Saudagar Singh, HR director at energy firm RWE Npower, told Personnel Today: “Primary healthcare providers and the government need to improve the alignment of services to the needs of patients.
“While access to services and products outside normal working hours has vastly improved across all sectors over the years, access to GPs has unfortunately deteriorated. Patients also need to be seen punctually.”
Brendon Hills, HR director at Shropshire County Council, agreed that more services should be geared to the needs of working people.
“It is the quality and availability of provision at local level that is important,” he said. However, Hills added the strength of the GP contract, where doctors dropped responsibility for delivering out-of-hours care, would make change hard to deliver.
A survey commissioned for the CBI report showed that 31% of adults find it ‘fairly difficult’ or ‘very difficult’ to get a doctor’s appointment at a convenient time.
The report also pointed to research by health and beauty retailer Boots showing that businesses lose 3.5 million days and £1bn a year because of employees visiting GPs.
Lucy Lofting, HR director at pharmaceuticals company TGRD Europe, said: “The concept of more readily available primary care outlined in the CBI report is in keeping with changing work patterns and more appropriate for the 21st century.
“Roll on progress, freedom of choice and easy access to medical services. I support the CBI’s proposals.”
However, doctors blamed the burden of providing sicknotes – because employers insisted on them – for clogging up waiting rooms.
Dr Laurence Buckman, chairman of the BMA’s GPs committee, said: “Abuse of the sicknote system is a waste of time for both working people and clinicians.”