Extended hours offer by local GPs

MOST north Norfolk surgeries now offer patients the chance of face-to-face appointments with a doctor outside normal practice hours.Figures this month show that 67pc of Norfolk's 91 GP practices have signed up to the controversial 'extended hours' national policy.

MOST north Norfolk surgeries now offer patients the chance of face-to-face appointments with a doctor outside normal practice hours.

Figures this month show that 67pc of Norfolk's 91 GP practices have signed up to the controversial 'extended hours' national policy.

North Norfolk practices in the scheme are: Aldborough, Aylsham The Market, Coltishall, Cromer, Holt, Ludham, Mundesley, North Walsham Birchwood, North Walsham Paston, Sheringham, and Stalham Staithe.

The government's determination to see extended hours introduced generated huge resentment among GPs nationally last year.


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Spokesmen at two north Norfolk practices, who asked not to be identified, supported the BMA's stance.

One said GPs already worked very long days and had always done their best to accommodate patients' appointment needs in a variety of ways.

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Another claimed surveys showed most patients were satisfied with normal surgery hours and GPs feared later appointments might be abused by some retired or non-working patients who were perfectly able to get to the surgery during the daytime.

Holt Medical Practice, which cares for nearly 14,000 patients, has been opening since November from 6.30pm to 8.15pm on Mondays and Wednesdays one week, and Tuesdays and Thursdays the next.

Practice manager Sue Preston said they aimed to cater for patients who were not able to attend during normal hours because of work, or because they relied for transport on someone who worked.

The new service was building steadily but it had got off to a slow start and sessions were not fully booked, possibly because there were a large number of elderly people in the area, many of whom did not like to go out in the dark.

At North Walsham's Paston Surgery, with 7,300 patients on its books, practice manager Graham Dodd said their extra sessions, which began in October, had attracted a varied response.

The Monday evening slots were proving much more popular than the Thursday early morning appointments.

'Take-up has not been all we might have expected but patients have taken to it pretty well and we are managing quite well,' he said.

Aylsham's Hungate Street Surgery is not offering its 9,300 patients extended hours. Practice manager Andrew Coyte-McKenzie, said: 'We have no comment at this time.'

Hoveton and Wroxham Medical Centre, which cares for 8,378 patients, has also not signed up to provide the service. Practice manager Mike Hammond said: 'We

are always keeping it

under review for our patients. It may well be something that we will do in the future. Our GPs will always consider the needs of their patients.'

A list of all the Norfolk practices offering extended hours is available online at www.norfolk.nhs.uk. Click on 'Your health' and then 'GP services in your area are improving'.

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