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Blog: the debate around a 7-day NHS

Blog: the debate around a 7-day NHS

Emotions were running high at Commissioning LIVE London on 4 March at Kensington’s Olympia London.
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Emotions were running high at Commissioning LIVE London on 4 March at Kensington’s Olympia London.

The panel session, Is a national 7-day service rollout one step too far? provoked a heated debate among the audience.

The speakers, Dr Rachel Green, GP at Grange Road Surgery, Fiona Moore, chief officer at Bury GP Federation, Dr Hany Wahba, a GP in Greenwich and Dr Keith Malone, urgent care lead, NHS South Cheshire CCG, expressed their views on a seven-day service.

Moore explained how well seven-day services has worked at her GP federation, with the extra hours being filled by regular GPs half of the time and partners for the other.

But this sparked a sense of outrage among the audience, who felt this would not be realistic across the UK.

The general consensus was that seven-day working forgets about the lives of the staff who have to work those extra hours.

“Who will look after my five-year-old boy at the weekend?” asked a GP in the audience. She then revealed that she had elderly parents who also needed her help and that working extra hours would put strain on her and her family.

“People make time to see their lawyer during the week, which they have to pay for, but expect an NHS seven-day service that is free,” she said.

Nurses were also well represented at the debate. One pointed out that many community nurses are close to retirement. How would these extra hours be filled when there is already a shortage? The panel was unable to offer an answer but agreed there was a problem.

On the other hand, a GP in the audience was in support of extended hours. He said: “Take my son for example, he commutes into central London and works long hours – eight to nine sometimes. When will he get time to see the doctor? He only has early or weekend appointments as an option. Most young people that work these hours tend not to care about seeing their family GP, they just want to see someone.”

“With respect,” another audience member replied. “Young people haven’t had the benefits of continuity of care that older generations have. Maybe they would feel differently if they did.”

Opinion is divided on seven-day working and it seems we are a long way off until the issue is resolved. 

The next Commissioning LIVE event is to be held in Birmingham on 14 June. Click here for more details.

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