GP surgeries have been ordered to stop half-day closures during the week in an effort to open up an additional 287,000 appointments for patients each year.
NHS England said it would withhold funding from doctors’ surgeries who continue to close for half-days without consent. Such a move, which could affect 722 practices, could cost each one around £40,000 a year.
Dr Nikki Kanani, acting director of primary care at NHS England and a GP in south-east London, told The Daily Mail: “Family doctors are the bedrock of our health service and access to GP practices remains essential to the NHS… and also to patients who want GPs to be available at core times, as well as in the evenings and at weekends.
“By curbing half-day closures we will be freeing up hundreds of thousands of appointments at a time when we know it can sometimes be tricky to see your GP.”
But doctors’ leaders said GPs are working under increasingly intense pressures and time constraints.