Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Seven out of 10 London Doctors Don't Work outside Office Hours

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Seven out of 10 London Doctors Don't Work outside Office Hours

Article excerpt

Byline: SOPHIE GOODCHILD

THE MONDAY AUDIT FAMILY DOCTORS

SEVEN out of 10 GPs in London fail to offer "commuter-friendly" appointments,the Evening Standard can reveal today.

In some areas up to nine in 10 refuse to open outside office hours. A survey ofdoctors' opening hours shows there is a postcode lottery over access totreatment in the evenings and weekends.

The majority of GP practices only open between 9am and 5pm and many shut atlunchtime. Our survey found: ? In some boroughs, including Camden, nopractices open on Saturdays.

? The worst borough is Kingston, where only one out of 29 open late and at theweekend (three per cent).

? In Greenwich, no surgery stays open late and just 15 per cent offer earlymorning or Saturday clinics.

? In Hackney, 35 per cent of practices open late or at weekends, compared with44 per cent in Ealing.

As a result, thousands of patients have to take time off work or even visitaccident and emergency units to get treatment.

The findings come as GPs are arguing with the Government over plans to forcethem to offer later appointments.

Last week, a National Audit Office report revealed that doctors have more thandoubled their pay but are working seven hours less a week. The average GP'ssalary is now [pounds sterling]110,000 a year a rise of nearly a third in two years.

Today, the Patients Association warned that patients are being denied propertreatment by the "geographical straitjacket" over GP opening hours.

Spokeswoman Vanessa Bourne said: "I know of people who've had to take half aday off work just to sit at home to get an appointment, let alone theappointment itself.

"It's very unfair because you have no option about who your GP is unless you goprivate. If the service is rotten where you live, you can't just go to a doctoron the other side of London. …

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