The vast majority of GPs (94%) do not want their practices to open seven days a week, a major survey has revealed.
David Cameron has said the Tories will guarantee access to a GP seven days a week by 2020 if they win the election, but the British Medical Association (BMA) said it found that while half (51%) of GPs polled said they feel practices should offer some form of extended hours to patients, most are against having to open theirs every day.
More than half (56%) reported working out-of-hours services makes them feel that at times their workload is having a detrimental effect on the care they provide.
But they were willing to explore options to improve access, with one in five (21%) suggesting they could provide extended hours by working in networks with other GPs through shared facilities.
Only one in ten GPs feel that the standard 10 minute consultation time is adequate, the survey of more than 15,000 GPs also revealed.
Two thirds (67%) felt there should be longer consultations for certain groups of patients, including those with long-term conditions, and one in four (25%) believe all patients need more time.
Most of them (93%) said their heavy workload has negatively impacted on the quality of patient services.
And two-thirds (68%) said they believe it is better to provide longer consultations of greater quality, even if it means waiting longer to see a GP for a routine appointment.
Dr Chaand Nagpaul, BMA GP committee chair, said: “GPs want to provide better services and spend more time with their patients, especially the increasing number of older people who often have a range of multiple health needs that require intensive, coordinated care.
“Unfortunately, this landmark poll highlights that GPs’ ability to care for patients is being seriously undermined by escalating workload, inadequate resourcing and unnecessary paperwork. Many GPs do not feel they have enough time to spend with their patients and that these intense pressures are beginning to damage local services.
“We need politicians of all parties to stop playing games with the NHS and making glib promises to voters that ignore the reality that many GP practices are close to breaking point.
“Centralised targets and headline grabbing initiatives have the potential to do more harm to patients. Political parties instead must work with GPs and patients on a long term, sustained plan that delivers high quality healthcare to the public. Better funding, more GPs and improved facilities are important factors that need to be addressed.”