Most patients have some access to a doctor’s appointment at weekends or outside normal hours on a weekday, thanks to extended hours offered by GPs in Horsham and Mid Sussex Clinical Commissioning Group.
The extended hours being rolled out across England allow patients to book an appointment on Saturday, Sunday, or on weekdays before 8am and after 6.30pm.
Latest NHS figures show that no patients have full access but 85% can make an appointment on one or more of the extended periods.
But 15% of registered patients, that’s 37,123 people, have no access at all.
The data was gathered by the NHS from 96% of GP practices in England.
In Horsham and Mid Sussex CCG, 23 practices with a total of 240,548 registered patients reported their results.
The Government says that everyone should have “more convenient access to GP services, including appointments at evening and weekends.”
It has set a target date of October 1st for all patients to have access to extended hours.
Dr Richard Vautrey, BMA GP committee chair, said: “While schemes like this are rolled out and are successful in providing the services they are commissioned to do, we still believe the money invested in such programmes would be better spent improving core GP services.
“We know that patients are frustrated with being unable to get timely appointments during regular working hours, owing to increased demand and unmanageable GP workloads, and therefore it is these services that should be a priority for proper funding.”
There are 7,153 GP practices in England. Currently, just over 6,000 of them offer some access to appointments on Saturdays, Sundays and during extended weekday hours.
The best record is in Herefordshire, and Rushcliffe in Nottinghamshire where all patients can make appointments in extended hours seven days a week. The poorest record is in South Sefton on Merseyside, where no patients have access to extended hours every day but 37% do receive some extended hours service.
In most instances, practices get together to form hubs or federations that provide the service, so patients may not see their usual doctor.
The most common day for extended hours to be offered in Horsham and Mid Sussex CCG is Wednesday. The least common day is Sunday.