News emerged over the weekend that the 'inflexible' hours of GP surgeries were costing the economy an estimated £1bn a year.

News emerged over the weekend that the 'inflexible' hours of GP surgeries were costing the economy an estimated£1bn a year.

The Daily Telegraph told readers that prime minister Gordon Brown was under 'mounting pressure' to order GPs to open evenings and weekends, after business leaders said the money was lost because of staff visits to the doctor during working hours.

The Confederation of British Industry said it wanted a 'healthy workforce, but not one stuck in doctors' surgeries during the middle of the day'.

The Daily Mail told readers 28 million hours were 'wasted last year because staff are having to make appointments in office hours'. It said: 'This is four times the number of days lost to industrial action in 2006'. It quoted CBI director of public services Neil Bentley: 'All too often, the system seems to exist for the benefit of doctors and not patients. We need flexible opening hours'.

The Observer told readers that primary care trusts responsible for providing care outside normal hours have 'struggled to find good locum services to meet demand'.

On Monday The Daily Telegraph told readers that hospital managers were having to employ 'expensive locums' to cover shortages left by the 'disastrous junior doctors recruitment system'. It said out of 15,600 training posts for doctors, 15 per cent remain unfilled. It quoted Basingstoke and North Hampshire foundation trust chief operating officer Donna Green, who said patients 'should not notice a difference' but using locums was 'not ideal'.