'We're Not Asking GPs to Work All the Hours God Sends, but We Want to Make Sure a Service Is Available for People at a Time That's Convenient to Them. More in Tune with Modern Lifestyles' in His First In-Depth Interview since the Assembly Election, First Minister Carwyn Jones Explains Why His Government Expects GPs to Extend Surgery Opening Hours in Wales. Martin Shipton Reports

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Byline: Martin Shipton

CARWYN JONES could find himself on a collision course with GPs as he seeks to fulfil a manifesto promise to extend surgery opening hours.

The First Minister told the Western Mail he expected GPs to provide a service more in tune with people's modern lifestyles, as nd that it was wrong to assume the doctors themselves were against this.

But Welsh GPs' leader Dr David Bailey said most of his colleagues had no appetite for Saturday opening in particular.

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Mr Jones made his comments during an interview about the new public service delivery unit he will be responsible for in the Welsh Government.

Asked about weekend and evening opening of GP surgeries, he said: "There are some surgeries that are already doing this.

"My own surgery in Bridgend - I was there at 7.45 this morning - they're already doing it.

"They are offering a service early in the morning and late in the evening one day a week. Not on Saturdays, that's true.

"It's not right that there should be this hotch-potch of service delivery with GP services across Wales. Is this having a go at GPs? No, we want to work with GPs.

"I know GPs are embedded in their communities, they want to work and provide a good service in their communities and I think GPs will want to look at doing this.

"We're not asking people to work all the hours that God sends, but we want to make sure that a service is available for people at a time that is convenient to them.

"Whether that's every single day of the week will take some time to roll out, but at least one day a week - surgeries are already doing it.

"Now if one surgery can do it, other surgeries, given the right level of support, I'm sure can do the same thing.

"Why should it be in the present day and age that some people can't even book, some GP surgeries don't have an appointments system.

"You have to turn up and wait for a few hours. Why should some people not be able to book, except for a few weeks in the future? "All that does is put pressure on A&E departments and on out-of-hours services.

"Why is it that some surgeries can offer an early morning service, a late evening service, can offer an on-line booking service for either the following day or the following week? "Now there are surgeries doing that in Wales.

"What I want to make sure is that all surgeries in time are all able with the right support and help to offer the same high level of service."

Asked what leverage the Welsh Government has over GPs, Mr Jones said: "I think it's wrong to assume that GPs somehow are dead against all this.

"I don't think they are - they live in their communities, they understand what their communities need. …