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Lack of demand for Sunday opening, report suggests

The minority of patients could attend Sunday appointments, and opening practices on Sundays is unlikely to meet patient needs, according to a new report.

Only 2% of Brits would only be able to attend an appointment on a Sunday, the University of East Anglia survey of more than 800,000 patients suggested.

The study also found that four out of five people are happy with traditional GP opening times and that weekend appointments are wanted most by younger, working people.

Lead researcher Dr John Ford said: “Some weekend opening pilots have already begun to show that there is a lack of demand on Sundays, and our findings suggest that Sunday opening, in addition to Saturday, would be unlikely to improve access

 “We found that most people do not think they need weekend opening - but it may benefit certain patient groups such as younger people in full-time work, and with certain long-term conditions. We found that people with angina, diabetes, hypertension, long-term neurological problems, arthritis, back problems, asthma, kidney or liver disease and cancer are most likely to use a weekend service.”

The survey also found that the majority of people (81%) did not find traditional GP opening times inconvenient, while 15% said that weekend opening would make it easier for them to see a doctor. Of these, 74% preferred Saturday opening.

Weekend working in primary care is a “flagship policy of the UK government” Ford added, and the current plan is that by 2020, people will have access to GPs seven days a week.