Tuesday, 2 July 2013

50,329 people in East Lancashire say local GP opening hours are inconvenient

New analysis published today by Labour shows that 14% - around 50,329 people - in East Lancashire find their local GP opening times inconvenient.

70% of these patients want to see their GP surgery’s opening hours extended to include evenings and and 72% Saturdays, whilst 34% would like appointments earlier in the morning.

It’s really tough for people to juggle their work and family commitments. I know how difficult it is to get an appointment when you have to fit around work and family. On top of that are visits to GPs with your children.

Many local residents tell me how hard it is to squeeze a visit to the GP into their already busy schedules.

GP surgeries in East Lancashire should listen closely to what their patients are saying and offer more flexible opening hours, especially for working people.

Labour's Shadow Health Minister Liz Kendall MP said:
“Millions of people want to be able to book an appointment with a GP outside of normal working hours. It’s hard to take time off during work, and many people also have to commute or pick their children up after school.

“David Cameron promised he’d make it easier for patients to see a GP. But the number of patients who say their surgery opening hours are inconvenient is rising and fewer surgeries are now offering evening and weekend appointments.

“This Government removed the vital incentives Labour put in place to make surgery appointments more convenient. That’s wrong and must change.

“Ministers should also instruct NHS England to ensure all GP led Clinical Commissioning Groups act on patients’ concerns about getting an appointment and give this issue the priority it deserves."

1. According to NHS England CCG directory there are 371,435 people registered with a GP in East Lancashire Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG).

2. Labour‘s analysis is based on the results of the latest national GP patient survey (July 2012 – March 2013) which is based on 971,000 responses. It found that 14% of patients in East Lancashire CCG say their GP opening hours are inconvenient.

3. David Cameron told the Daily Mail on 12 April 2010 “Under the Conservatives you will be able to see a GP in your area until 8pm seven days a week. This will make a huge difference to all those people who struggle to get an appointment with a GP at a time that suits them.”

4. Labour put in place financial incentives for GPs to improve access to appointments in the Quality and Outcomes Framework (QOF), which was part of the 2004 GP contract. QOF awards GP surgeries points for patient care, which are linked to financial payments, including how patients view their experience at the surgery, according to the GP Patient Survey.

In 2009/10 (pg 44) there were three indicators on patient experience - length of GP consultation, access to an appointment in 2 working days, and booking an appointment 2 days ahead. Surgeries could get a maximum of 91.5 points out of a total 1000 points (9.15%) for patient experience.

In 2010/11 (pg 11), the Government removed the two patient experience indicators relating to patient access, leaving only one: length of consultation. Surgeries can now get a maximum of 33 points out of a total 1000 points (33%) for patient experience.

5. Last year’s survey by Labour showed a 5.7% drop, equivalent to 477 GP surgeries across England, opting out of offering evening and weekend appointments between 2010/11 and 2011/12.

6. The number of people who do not find their GP opening hours convenient rose by 6% between 2011/12 and 2012/13. Full survey results for both years can be found here.

This data was not collected prior to July 2011.