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first_imgDavid Cameron said patients would be given access to GPs seven days a week by 2020Credit:Paul Ellis/AFP Long waits are unacceptable as some patients may decide not to seek treatmentKatherine Murphy Partial access could mean anything from one extra 1.5 hour session after 6pm on one day per week, to six extra sessions a week or Saturday opening. Practices can also work as groups to offer the sessions to their patients at another practice if theirs is closed.The figures, first reported by the Health Service Journal, showed that around a third of practices provided extended opening on one or two days per week.Some 975 practices, which provide care to 6.4 million patients, were found not to provide any access to appointments outside normal working hours. Only one in five GP surgeries offer extended hours to patients seven days a week, despite a drive for better out of hours care, official data shows.The Government has committed to improving access to GPs in the evenings and weekends through surgeries putting on extra sessions where appointments can be pre-booked.But only 19 per cent of the 7,000 GP practices surveyed for NHS England offer full extended access across seven days a week, either at their own surgery or another practice within the local group.  The survey found that the most common offer from practices was a later opening on one day of the week. The second most common offer was extended access on all seven days of the week.Sunday was the least common day for practices to offer extra appointments.An NHS England spokesman said: “We know just how much the public value a timely GP appointment, so it is encouraging to see from these figures that local GP practices, by working together, are offering evening and weekend appointments to the vast majority.”These figures confirm that the best approach for offering extended access is not for each practice to have to do so on its own, but instead to share appointments across practices.” center_img David Cameron This is despite a pledge from former prime minister David Cameron that patients would be given access to GPs seven days a week by 2020.Previous research has suggested that demand from patients for weekend appointments is low but the Department of Health says that as weekend opening becomes “normalised”, it expects demand to grow.Katherine Murphy from the Patients Association said lack of access to GPs is a “significant concern”. She told the Daily Mail: “Long waits are unacceptable as some patients may decide not to seek treatment…This may lead to serious illnesses being missed.”The survey found that 6,164 practices (86% of the total) provide partial or full extended access, covering 49.51 million patients in England. Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily  Front Page newsletter and new  audio briefings.last_img read more