GP practices in all primary care trust areas are now offering extended hours, the Department of Health's latest figures reveal.

And only three PCTs have not yet achieved the aim set out in the operating framework of half of their practices offering extended hours.

Seventy two per cent of practices were offering extended hours when the latest figures were compiled last month. In 65 PCT areas, 75 per cent or more of practices were offering extended hours.

Interim solution

Western Cheshire PCT was the last to be recorded as having no practices offering extended hours up until the new figures were released yesterday.

It had been providing extra GP appointments using a model launched as an interim solution last summer before the national model was introduced.

The scheme offered registered patients extended appointments at one of four locations in the area using sessions staffed by local GPs.

But there was a question mark over whether this complied with the Department of Health's national model.

Uptake concerns

A PCT spokeswoman said: "We set the scheme up in this way because of concerns that uptake would be low in rural areas and staff working in those locations would be working in relative isolation."

She said the scheme had now been expanded via locality commissioning groups so that patients could choose to see either a GP from their own practice or any GP, which meant it complied with the national model's requirements.

The PCT anticipates that 51 per cent of practices will be participating in the scheme by the end of March.