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Anger over extended hours for nurses

Up to £2.65m is to be made available to allow GP practices in Scotland to extend surgery opening hours with nursing support.

Minister for Public Health Shona Robison made her announcement at the 2008 NHSScotland Event in Glasgow:

"Patients have told us that they need more flexibility in accessing GP appointments and we are working with GPs to deliver that. We know GPs don't work in isolation and nurses are a critical part of the care that practices provide.

"Since April, GP practices have been able to apply for extra funding to extend their opening hours to weekday evenings, early mornings or Saturday mornings. This extra £2.65m funding will further enhance this by investing in vital nursing support during those hours."

In response to the announcment Dr Dean Marshall, chairman of the BMA's Scottish General Practitioners Committee, said:

"This arrangement has not been agreed with Scotland's GPs who employ practice nurses.

"GPs have already expressed their anger at how the Scottish government has sought to implement extended hours and this new arrangement for practice nurses will simply fuel that anger further. Many of our staff work in general practice because the hours fit with their family commitments and it is unlikely that practice nurses will be more inclined work evenings and weekends under this scheme.

"Scotland's GPs believe that it is inappropriate to direct further NHS funding towards extended hours in preference to more pressing health needs. Only today, children expressed their concerns about living in poverty - surely it would be more responsible for our government to invest scarce NHS resources into tackling the health inequalities that exist in Scotland, this would deliver much better health outcomes.

"We still maintain that if the Scottish government had negotiated an arrangement for improved access for patients, we could have created a more flexible approach to delivering extended hours, that had the backing of GPs rather than this piecemeal approach that few GPs to date have signed up to."

Do you agree with the BMA's reaction? Your comments:
(Terms and conditions apply)

"If the goverment wants to improve services for patients they should speak to the nurses who work in primary care. We see patients in my surgery from 7.15am- 6pm every day. If the hours are extended there is no x-ray departments open, no labs available for blood samples etc. The patients then have to make another vist to the surgery to have any tests performed or is the govenment planning to open all services to accomadate pimary care?" - Ellen Kenworthy, Cwmbran

"I think extended openning is purely a political ploy and score making it is neither required nor necessary. I thought the NHS was short of cash, obviously this move shows their is surplus money available. I would beg the government to think again. The more service is provided for free the less the monitoring and more of an increase in its abuse and its use." - V Henry, N15

"Did GPs consider children living in poverty when they accepted the nGMS contract? £2.65m is paltry compared to the £1.9 BILLION invested into primary care with the new contract. How much of this massive 33% increase in funding has been spent directly on patient care and how much was seen by GPs as their pay rise?" - Jodi Davies, Scotland