Intended for healthcare professionals


Seven day access to routine care in general practice

BMJ 2017; 357 doi: (Published 03 May 2017) Cite this as: BMJ 2017;357:j2142
  1. Martin Marshall, vice chair
  1. Royal College of General Practitioners, London, UK
  1. martin.marshall{at}

Public Accounts Committee exposes a disconnect between politics and evidence

Few would disagree that good access to general practice is important. It is a prerequisite for delivering safe, effective, and equitable care and fundamental to reducing pressure on hospitals. But there is little agreement about whether the current level of access is acceptable, what are reasonable public expectations, and how much additional investment is required to increase access.

Current government policy guarantees evening and weekend access to routine general practice services for all patients by 2020. Despite giving some ground in recent policy announcements,1 politicians are unlikely to back away from this commitment; they see improving access as a vote winner.

GPs disagree that improving access is a top priority for patients, and the data seem to support their view. The 2016 annual patient survey2 found that 85% of patients were able to see a GP of their choosing within a few days; 75.9% of patients were satisfied with their practice’s opening hours, and less than half were in favour of Sunday opening. Indeed, some of the …

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