North East leads the way in extended GP opening hours

New figures released today show that doctors in the North East are leading the way in opening their surgeries for longer hours.  Statistics released by the Department of Health show that 70.7% of Doctor’s practices in the region are now holding sessions on an early morning, evening or weekend.

Nationally, these new figures show that Labour has achieved its target of later evening and weekend opening hours in 50 per cent of England's GP surgeries three months ahead of schedule and actually exceeded its target in the North East.

Health Minister Ben Bradshaw said;

 "This is a landmark day for patients. Labour's reforms are creating a fairer NHS, one in which everyone can see a doctor when they need to and when they want to.

"Ahead of schedule, half of England's GPs now offer later evening and weekend opening thanks to Labour's deal with the British Medical Association. It means fairer, more convenient access to a doctor for people who couldn't otherwise fit it around their work or their children.

"Although they try to conceal it, the Conservatives have pledged policies which would make it harder for families to see a GP at weekends or in the evenings.

"David Cameron needs to come clean and to tell patients which GPs would stop offering weekend and evening opening under his unfair plans."

Assistant to the Minister for the North East and City of Durham MP, Roberta Blackman-Woods MP said;

”I’m pleased to see that the North East is at the forefront of delivering an NHS more in-tune with the lifestyles of modern families. People want to access their local doctors at a time when it’s convenient to them. I know that many local people are finding the extended opening hours on an evening and a weekend really useful, especially those people who work full time and have children. They are also deeply concerned that the Tories want to see the hours cut back.”


Notes to Editors:

1. In March 2008, 92 per cent of GPs voted to back a deal agreed between the British Medical Association and the Labour Government to provide additional evening and weekend opening.
2. The agreement will mean that by 2009 the majority of GP surgeries will provide at least one three-hour evening or weekend session each week.
• Thanks to this recent deal, access to GPs is improving rapidly:
• In May 2008, just 20 per cent of GP practices offered extended hours;
• Labour has now hit the target of 50 per cent of GPs offering extended hours before the end of the year.
3. The Conservative Party would scrap this deal.

Would the Conservatives really be prepared to scrap the Government's current target of having half of all GP practices offering extended hours within the next three years?
‘Yes we would,' says Mr Lansley.
Andrew Lansley, Interview with Pulse, 29 April 2008

"We also believe we should be free to determine the opening hours, size and locations of our practices, in response to our patients [sic] needs..."
2020health GPs petition, drawn up by the Conservative Party and cited by David Cameron in his speech to the King's Fund, 21 April 2008

"Extending GP opening hours obviously brings benefits for patients, but the Government should not centrally prescribe how long GP surgeries should be open for. Instead, access and opening hours should be determined by GPs in response to their patients' needs, which can vary considerably."
1) Mark Simmonds MP, Shadow health minister, Conservative press release, 12 August 2008

4. The GP extended hours statistics can be accessed at