The Scottish government has set itself on a collision course with GPs by promising extended practice opening hours as part of a package to improve access to primary care.

The proposal is at the heart of the Scottish National Party's first health strategy and action plan, Better Health, Better Care, which was published last week.

Health and well-being secretary Nicola Sturgeon said nobody expected GP services to be available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, but added: 'Many patients, including those in some hard-to-reach groups, both want and would benefit from being able to see a GP before or after work or at the weekend.'

But Dean Marshall, chair of the British Medical Association's Scottish GPs committee, said he had yet to see the evidence.

'We are keen to ensure that any changes to the existing hours represent the best use of scarce resources and do not detract from our ability to deliver services to those with the greatest need.'

The SNP's action plan appears to borrow some ideas from England, including walk-in clinics at commuter points, which will be piloted in five pharmacies next year.

But it does not change the fundamental policy direction for the Scottish NHS, set out in the Kerr report - published under the former Labour-led administration - which aims to move to a more community-based health service.

Other commitments in the plan include a consultation on a new patients' rights bill, which will cover waiting-times guarantees, and production of an 'ownership report' which will be sent annually to all households, providing information and setting out patient and carer rights and responsibilities.

The plan also promises a local healthcare bill, due to be published next summer, which will include proposals for direct elections to NHS boards.

Ms Sturgeon said it puts patients, the public and staff at the heart of planning for health. 'We've set out a clear vision of a mutual NHS where ownership and accountability is shared with the public and staff.'

In an indirect rejection of some English NHS reforms, however, she added: 'We have set out a plan for an NHS based on the values of co-operation, not the whims of the market. We affirm a unified structure in which decisions are made in the interests of the people we serve and not by the demands of internal competition.'

The plan was launched shortly before Audit Scotland published its annual overview of Scotland's NHS performance for 2006-07.

The watchdog reported that the NHS had a£98m underspend on its£9.4bn budget, and that only NHS Western Isles had failed to meet its financial targets.

Better Health, Better Care can be accessed via Overview of Scotland's Health and NHS Performance in 2006-07 can be accessed via