NHS
The NHS Getty

GPs in the UK will be offered incentives in a bid to persuade them to open their practices seven days a week.

Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt will in a speech on 19 June at the Nelson Medical Practice in London say that GPs in England will be offered a "new deal" if they get on board with the government's plans to have GP practices operating over the weekends, the BBC reports.

The new package includes plans to recruit 5,000 new GPs and another 5,000 support staff including practice nurses and even financial incentives to GPs willing to work in the most deprived areas.

Hunt will say that GPs who have left the profession, or who want to work part-time will be given more help to do so.

Jeremy Hunt
Jeremy Hunt Reuters

These are part of the plans the government had drawn up for the National Health Service (NHS) England to woo more doctors. According to the BBC, more than one in 10 GP training places were vacant last year.

He is expected to pledge £10m ($15.88) for a 'turnaround programme' to prevent GP practices but is expected to link any additional investment to plans to move towards a seven day service, Pulse reports.

The £10m turnaround programme will be used to help struggling practices and will be administered by NHS England and NHS Clinical Commissioners.

Hunt , in his speech on Friday, will say: "I want to be upfront: this is not about change I can deliver on my own. If we are to have a new deal, I will need your co-operation and support. Within five years, we will need to look after a million more over 70s."

He will say if better and smarter ways are not found to help the growing elderly population remain healthy and independent, then the hospitals will be overwhelmed.

The British Medical Association's Dr Chaand Nagpaul however said that although the GPs were ready to work with the government, seven-day GP services may not be the right idea to push forward with.

"Pilots of seven-day routine working are increasingly demonstrating a low uptake of routine weekend appointments," he said.

"Therefore, to make the most of the limited GP workforce and precious NHS resource, the government should focus on supporting practices during the day and further develop the current 24/7 urgent GP service so that patients can be confident of getting access to a quality GP service day and night," Nagpaul added.

The Pulse quotes Dr Dean Eggitt from the Doncaster LMC: "The £10m is not even slightly enough. It will make Jeremy Hunt look good, but it won't do anything for the problem. We are not looking for sticking plasters, we are looking for long-term investment, so we can continue long-term viable businesses."

He said:"The £10m will probably go as far as paying the consultancy firm fees."