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Camden viewpoints: Seven day opening of GP surgeries - Is PM’s election pledge a good idea?

PUBLISHED: 07:55 17 October 2014

Glen McDougal, 74, retired, of Primrose Hill, says the whole GP system is too precarious for working people. Pictures: Polly Hancock

Glen McDougal, 74, retired, of Primrose Hill, says the whole GP system is too precarious for working people. Pictures: Polly Hancock

Polly Hancock

Prime minister David Cameron made a party conference pledge three weeks ago that if the Conservatives win power at the next election they will introduce seven-day opening at GP surgeries. Danny Wittenberg asked residents in Finchley Road how easy they find it to make a doctors appointment and if seven-day access is a feasible idea.

Annelies Simeloff, 74, retired, of Goldhurst Terrace, West Hampstead, questioned how the change would be financedAnnelies Simeloff, 74, retired, of Goldhurst Terrace, West Hampstead, questioned how the change would be financed

Glen McDougal, 74, retired, of Primrose Hill, said: “I think they should be open more often than they are. It’s alright for me, but the whole system is too precarious for working people. My daughter is constantly trying to get appointments for her children and there’s a whole level of uncertainty about it. I just wish it was Ed Miliband who said the words, not David Cameron.”

Annelies Simeloff, 74, retired, of Goldhurst Terrace, West Hampstead, said: “I find that I can get an appointment within a day or two as long as I’m happy to see anyone at my surgery. But it’s extremely difficult if you need an appointment really early or really late because you just can’t get there for when they are available. But I want to know how on earth they are going to finance it.”

NHS worker William Young says 'the days when people could easily take time off work to visit their GP are behind us'NHS worker William Young says 'the days when people could easily take time off work to visit their GP are behind us'

Gabriella Kalmar, 44, a restaurant manager, of Finchley Road, said: “I get my appointments very easily and haven’t had any bad experiences but I never see the same doctor twice. I am really annoyed that every time I visit my surgery I meet a different GP and I need to explain my problem from the beginning. Everything should be online and all doctors should be able to look at my medical history on the computer.”

Sarah Barnes, 54, unemployed, of Sheriff Road, West Hampstead, said: “It’s a good thing but I think it’s going to stretch the staff too much. I have a brilliant doctor at Brondesbury Medical Centre in Kilburn High Road where you can get appointments on a Saturday or on some weekday evenings after 6pm. I think the NHS should focus more on improving services like intensive care instead of stretching our GPs who work long and hard as it is.”

Peter Waller 80, a retired aeronautical engineer, and Bente Levin, 70, a wheelchair-user, said 'We thought GPs were good before we needed them'Peter Waller 80, a retired aeronautical engineer, and Bente Levin, 70, a wheelchair-user, said 'We thought GPs were good before we needed them'

Carly Burrows, 27, a teaching assistant, of Abbey Road, Maida Vale, said: “At my surgery you have to wait a month for an appointment, so then you have more people taking emergency appointments for non-emergencies. I think extending the opening hours would be a good idea if they employed more staff but, if it’s the same people working longer hours, they might be overloaded.”

William Young, 35, an NHS worker, of Peckham, said: “I think the new proposals are a good thing because the days when people could easily take time off work to visit their GP are behind us. Particularly in London where people have a long commute, you need to be able to see your GP outside your standard nine to five, and for me personally that would be very convenient. My GP is excellent and I think most GPs do their best to provide a reliable and equitable service.”

Robin James Ford, 44, a teacher working in Belsize Park, of Eastcote, said: “My GP already has morning commuter and evening services as well as Saturday morning surgeries which I think everybody would appreciate. It makes a massive difference because I can use appointments that don’t have an impact on the children I teach.”

Peter Waller 80, a retired aeronautical engineer, and Bente Levin, 70, a wheelchair-user, of Compayne Gardens, West Hampstead, said: “We thought GPs were good before we needed them. We recognise that there aren’t enough GPs for the number of patients they have but the experience is laughable. Getting a home visit is like squeezing an empty toothpaste tube – we’ve only had them twice in the last two years. There aren’t going to be any more GPs so the plan to extend opening hours made us laugh even more – it would be harder to get an appointment when you wanted one because there would be fewer GPs at any one time.”

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