The British Medical Association (BMA) has joined calls for more NHS services to be available seven days per week.
However, the model must be developed with a “clear understanding” of the practical implications, especially for doctors’ working patterns.
A report published by the BMA points out that the traditional models of primary and secondary care are under significant pressure.
To deal with this, a whole system approach, which is flexible enough to account for local challenges, is needed, the BMA has said.
The report states: “We will support GPs taking part in the recently announced pilots that aim to extend access, although we remain concerned that the current workforce is stretched enough trying to provide high quality care within current access arrangements.”
Dr Mark Porter, chair of the BMA Council said: “We are already in negotiations with the government on how to develop working patterns which meet patient demand and deliver greater consultant presence at weekends, while safeguarding the need for a healthy work-life balance.
“Given the NHS has finite resources we have to look at what services can be provided within the existing workforce and budget. We believe delivering consistently high quality emergency, urgent and acute services across seven days should be the priority.”