7 day opening for the NHS is a key aim for the UK government, and it is not restrict to secondary care. The government wants to see GP practices open 7 days a week to meet demand and provide a more flexible service.
In October 2013 the Prime Minister’s Challenge Fund was established to help improve access to general practice and increase innovation in primary care. Results from the first 20 pilot schemes, released this autumn, suggested that whilst non-urgent appointments on a Saturday were welcomed by some parts of the community, Sunday opening was not supported by the general public.
The British Journal of General Practice has now published a paper echoing this finding.
John Ford and colleagues, from the Universities of East Anglia and Oxford, sought the views of over 880,000 patients from across England, through the GP patient survey in 2014. 80% of those who completed the survey did not report any problems with current opening times. Of the 20% who would like to see changes, approximately three-quarters said that Saturday opening would make it easier for them to see someone, but only 36% (6% of the total sample) thought the same about Sunday opening.
Younger people, those who work full-time, and those who could not get time off work were more likely to report that weekend opening would help. Those with complex needs such as those with Alzheimer's disease, learning difficulties or significant mobility issues did not report week day only opening as an issue.