GPs should commit to weekend appointments for the sake of poorer patients, says NHS chief

Simon Stevens says some workers could lose pay if they attend on a weekday

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Indy Lifestyle Online

GPs should commit to weekend appointments for the sake of poorer patients who could lose pay if they attend on a weekday, the chief executive of the NHS in England has told doctors. 

In his most strident intervention in the dispute between medics and the Government around seven day services, Simon Stevens said that greater access could play a part in narrowing health inequalities between rich and poor.

“We have this debate about the availability of staff to do this, but if you’re a manual worker on an hourly wage who cannot get time off work who will forfeit earnings if you have to take time off in a morning to go and wait in a GP surgery, actually that can produce people putting off needed care,” he told delegates at the NHS Innovation Expo in Manchester.

“If we’re serious about tackling inequalities we’ve got to be serious about thinking about how we make these services available more generally.”

He also voiced support for improved weekend services in hospitals, saying there was “indisputable” evidence that mortality in was higher at the weekends.

 

However, he said the NHS did not need “every consultant in every speciality to be providing planned care on a Sunday”.

“What we do need…is access to senior consultants in clinically critical parts of hospitals, through the working week, and we need diagnostic backup to be available for them,” he said.

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