Figures released by the Department of Health show that 69 per cent of GP practices were offering extended opening hours by the end of December.

The strategic health authority with the most practices offering extended hours is NHS South West, with 82.1 per cent doing so. NHS North West has the least number of practices offering extended hours, at 59.0 per cent. NHS North West is also the only SHA to have one PCT with no extended hours at GP surgeries on its patch.

Health minister Ben Bradshaw said the hard work of local NHS organisations and GP practices had "far exceeded" the original target of half of all practices offering extended hours by the end of 2008.

All PCTs in all SHAs except NHS North West and NHS West Midlands are offering extended hours in at least half of all GP practices on their patch.