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[July 20, 2014]
EX M&S BOSS: OPEN GPs AT WEEKENDS ; Call for family doctors to keep supermarket hours [Sunday Mirror (England)]
(Sunday Mirror (England) Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) DOCTORS' surgeries should be open at the weekend just like supermarkets, says the former boss of Marks & Spencer.
Sir Stuart Rose said shop workers expected to work weekends and GPs should too.
He said: "When I joined M&S it was made very clear to me that I would be lucky if I got one Saturday off in five or six.
"Some of these practices can't get you an appointment but they are only open 8am to 5pm and don't do nights and weekends." The ex M&S chief executive has been brought in by ministers to review the leadership and culture of the NHS. He spoke out after claims by a patients' watchdog that more people are going to hospital casualty departments for treatment because they have to wait so long for GP appointments. Sir Stuart, 66, now chairman of online retailer Ocado, said family doctors needed to work longer to relieve the pressure on overstretched A&Es.
But doctors' leaders said Sir Stuart's claim GPs only worked from 8am to 5pm was a myth. Chaand Nagpaul, chair of the British Medical Association's GP committee, said many surgeries already run weekend and evening clinics.
Doctors blame issues with appointments on insufficient resources and an ageing population.
Despite a government pledge to deliver sameday slots, a poll last month found the average waiting time for an appointment will exceed 14 days by next April - up from a nine-day average earlier this year.
A fifth of the 500 GPs questioned by magazine Pulse said the average wait for a non-urgent appointment is already more than two weeks.
Labour argues that the rise in waiting times has been caused by a government decision to scrap a waiting time target which promised patients a GP appointment within 48 hours.
This rule was scrapped in June 2010 as part of Coalition efforts to dismantle what it called a "target culture" in the NHS.
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