Town tops GP reduced hours poll

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HARTLEPOOL has come out worst in a poll of GP surgeries where practices reduced their evening and weekend appointments.

The study conducted by the Labour party found that 31 per cent of the surgeries in Hartlepool are operating a reduced service in the last 12 months.

Labour contacted 91 of England’s 151 PCTs and found that 56 per cent reported a decrease in the number of surgeries offering extended opening hours.

Labour said patients are being forced to wait for as long as three weeks to see their GP and that there has been a 5.7 per cent drop in the number of surgeries offering appointments outside normal working hours.

They say the figures suggest that people are turning to accident and emergency wards for help for their illnesses after one million extra visits to emergency units were recorded last year, compared to 2009-10.

The research also found that accident and emergency wards in 46 NHS trusts are not meeting the maximum waiting time of four hours.

Shadow health secretary Andy Burnham accused Prime Minister David Cameron of breaking his pre-election pledge that all patients would be able to see their local GPs until 8pm seven days a week.

Mr Burnham said: “David Cameron made a lot of promises on the NHS and one by one we are seeing these promises broken.”

A Conservative spokesman said: “It is more than a bit rich for the Labour Party to lecture this Government on access to GPs out of hours when it was their disastrous GP contract which meant that 90 per cent of surgeries stopped offering this service altogether.”