Responding to the announcement by the Prime Minister that new GP pioneer groups will pilot extended opening hours, Chris Ham, Chief Executive of The King’s Fund, said:
‘Although most people report good access to their GP, this varies significantly between practices, and patients with busy working lives often find it difficult to make appointments at a convenient time. While some practices have made good progress towards harnessing the benefits of technology – which evidence shows is delivering benefits to patients – others have been slow to adapt.
‘It is important to recognise that general practice is under increasing pressure, with some practices in need of investment and forecasts suggesting a significant shortfall of GPs will develop over the next decade. However, there are opportunities to work more efficiently, particularly if practices work together in federations, networks and partnerships. Today's announcement will therefore provide a welcome impetus towards ensuring that extended opening hours and better use of technology become the norm, rather than the exception.
‘However, the biggest challenges facing general practice are to tackle variations in the quality of care and to meet the needs of the growing number of people with long-term conditions. For many of these patients, improving continuity of care is more important than extending access. Meeting their needs will also require sustained reform to ensure that general practice provides a wider range of services, closer to people's homes.’
Notes to editors:
For further information or to request an interview, please contact The King’s Fund press office on 020 7307 2585 (or 07584 146035 if calling out of hours).
The King's Fund is an independent charity working to improve health and health care in England. We help to shape policy and practice through research and analysis; develop individuals, teams and organisations; promote understanding of the health and social care system; and bring people together to learn, share knowledge and debate. Our vision is that the best possible care is available to all.