'Patients should have access to GP waiting times for routine conditions'

NHS England chief executive Simon Stevens said patients will be able to look up GP waiting times. 

Patients will be able to look up GP waiting times under plans announced by the chief executive of NHS England

Waiting times at GP practices will be made available to view online, NHS England have stated.
Picture: iStock

Simon Stevens told MPs on the House of Commons public accounts committee on 9 March people should have access to waiting times for routine conditions.

Mr Stevens said it was reasonable to expect improved access alongside extra practice nurses, GPs, pharmacists and mental health therapists that NHS England would be putting into general practice in the next few years.

Raising profile

Health Education England published a workforce plan last week to raise the profile of general practice nursing, which included recommendations about consistency in recruitment.

Mr Stevens also stressed all GP surgeries must offer bookable appointments outside the hours of 8am to 6pm in the next two years.

He said: ‘We actually want to have more information on the availability of GP appointments for routine conditions.

‘We will start collecting that data later this year and we want to publish those so people can see what different waiting times are.’

He said the move would be good for both patients and GPs, adding: ‘This is all in the context of a general practice system which is under great pressure, but one we are putting investment into.’

Mr Stevens said there was a need to look at how GPs offer both appointments during the day and in extended hours.

Information from NHS England published in December last year showed only one in five GP surgeries offers extended hours to patients seven days a week.


Mr Stevens warned that from October this year the GP contract was going to change and practices would no longer be eligible for enhanced payment if they have half-day closing.

He said a new GP workload practice tool was going to measure what is happening inside primary care.

But Royal College of GPs chair Helen Stokes-Lampard said GPs were working ‘flat out’.

She added: ‘We want to do more for our patients, we want to offer more services that our patients will find useful and will be of benefit to their health, but with the intense resource and workforce pressures we are facing, this will simply not be possible.’

Further information

Workforce development plan to boost profile of practice nursing

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