- Posted by: Mike Hedges MS
- Category: Latest News
Welsh Labour’s Health Minister Lesley Griffiths has outlined a three-phased approach to improving access to GP surgeries across Wales, with a focus on making appointments more convenient for working people.
Improving access to GP surgeries is a top Welsh Labour manifesto commitment. During the first phase, currently underway, appointments will be redistributed towards the latter part of the day, between 5.00 and 6.30pm to ensure they meet the needs of working people. Early morning appointments will also be available where needed. The first phase will also see a reduction in the number of practices with half day or lunchtime closing, which will again improve access to services. The second phase will focus on later evening appointments, after 6.30pm, to meet the needs of patients who have difficulty in attending earlier in the day.
At the moment, 12% of GP practices offer extended opening after 6.30pm. Health Boards are reviewing the need for additional extended opening and it is anticipated during 2013/14 there will be 30% of practices offering extended opening after 6.30pm. By March 2016, this figure is expected to reach 50%.
The third phase will ensure the provision of planned appointments at weekends. March 2012 Statistics showed that:
• In 2011, 31% of GP practices were open during core hours of 8.00am – 6.30pm, 12 percentage points higher than 2010.
• 48% of GP practices were open 95% or more of core hours, 11 percentage points higher than 2010.
A review will be undertaken during 2012/13 to assess the effectiveness of extended opening in those practices which currently offer this service (12% of the total number in Wales). Changes to access arrangements will be influenced by the findings of this review and extended opening will be rolled out from 2013/14.