Have you seen the latest monthly figures from the DH on the number of GPs offering extended opening hours? The numbers are increasing, although 22 PCTs and care trusts - 14.5 per cent - still had no practices in their areas offering extended hours.
GP access is a subject close to my heart and these statistics made fascinating reading.
To which figures did I turn first but of course that on my own north London PCT, which has nigh on 60 GP practices, a mere eight of which have extended their hours. Tut tut. Not that it surprises me - there are only so many hours in the day that its many single or double-handed practices can manage, after all.
It is faring better than some others in the smoke though. Interestingly, being an inner or outer London PCT does not seem to affect success in this measure. I note that two with some of the highest numbers of GP practices per patch had both failed to get any to open for longer. One is in the very centre of town and the other out in the 'burbs - totally different in size, patient make-up and perhaps practice make-up.
Levels of deprivation do not tell the whole story either; one east London PCT has precisely zero practices playing ball, while its neighbour, a rival in the deprivation stakes, has managed it with almost all on its patch.
Scratching the surface
This uneven picture is replicated across the country. Some PCTs in better-off areas have got nearly all their practices offering extended hours to the demanding well-heeled locals, while others in similar circumstances have barely scratched the surface. The same appears to apply to organisations serving poorer areas. There seems no rhyme or reason to why some organisations are doing better than others. Suggestions on a postcard to the usual address, please.
If the idea of allowing patients to register with more than one practice - so we can sign up to one closer to the office - ever comes off, I see that the PCT serving HSJ Towers is faring a bit better. Of course, I don't have enough data to hand to be able to tell where these obliging practices are located, but one hopes that all the information we could need will be published at some point. Will offending non-compliant GPs be named and shamed?