GP practices in Scotland are being asked to consider opening during public holidays after NHS 24 identified an increase in calls to the helpline over the Christmas and Easter periods.
In a bid to improve patient access to primary care during peak times, bosses at NHS 24 are in discussions with the Scottish Government Health Department about how GPs could be rewarded for opening on public holidays.
Dr George Crooks, clinical director of NHS 24, said: "The public are used to three-day closures of primary care services. As soon as there is a fourth day closure you don't get an extra day's demand. It is significantly increased.
"This Christmas and New Year will be very challenging, not just for NHS 24, but for out-of-hours GPs and A&E departments. Christmas Day is generally quiet, but once that is past, activity increases."
Health secretary Nicola Sturgeon said that, while she wanted to see more flexible opening hours at doctors' surgeries, the intention was not to force GPs or other staff to work "round the clock" at Christmas or other times of the year. "It is important that these things are taken forward in a proper way," she added.
How would you feel about opening on public holidays? Perhaps this is something you do already? Your comments: (Terms and conditions apply)
"I think the way ahead was made clear with the specification for Darzi Centres: 8am-8pm, 365 days a year. This is what awaits GP practices across the country and a pre-election government will force the issue in an attempt to win votes." - Andrew Clark, Chesterfield, Derbyshire