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Evening and weekend GP appointments ‘not good value for money’ says Leeds doctor

Dr Richard Vautrey.
Dr Richard Vautrey.
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A new service offering access to GPs on evenings and weekends has been criticised as “not good value for money” after a quarter of appointments slots were unfilled.

A flagship Government policy of all surgeries providing the facility has been criticised after figures revealed one in four appointments are not used.

NHS Leeds Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) said the uptake of the service in August was 75 per cent.

Dr Richard Vautrey, a GP in the city and British Medical Association GP Committee Chairman, said CCGs were under “huge pressure” to show they are offering the service. He said: “Sensible CCGs that want to use their resources in a better way are under pressure to maintain a service that really isn’t good value for money.

“That is ridiculous so I think we really do need to see much more common sense and pragmatic flexibility.

“If we had the luxury of resource and workforce then we could look at extending the service but until then we’ve got to focus on what is most important.”

Nationally, around half a million evening and weekend appointment slots have been left empty, Pulse magazine revealed.

Figures from 80 CCGs showed that 37 per cent of Sunday appointments go unfilled, 24 per cent on Saturdays and 23 per cent on weekday evenings.

NHS England said patients wanted GP appointments at more convenient times, including evenings and weekend.

An NHS Leeds spokesperson said: “The service in Leeds has been rolling out across the city over the past couple of months but now covers 100 per cent of the population.

“The average uptake for August 2018 was 75 per cent and provided an additional 7,000 appointments to the city.”