ACCESS to GPs in Gwent have been increasing as part of a Wales-wide improvement in the availability of family doctor services, according to new figures.

In 2013, 67 per cent of Gwent practices opened for the core hours of 8am to 6.30pm, five days a week, up from 46 per cent in 2012, and the highest percentage of Wales’ seven health boards.

Fewer Gwent practices operated a half-day closure last year – seven per cent, down from ten per cent in 2012. And 13 per cent, of Gwent practices offered appointments before 8.30am, above the Wales average of ten per cent.

Figures show 91 per cent of Gwent practices offered appointments to patients between 5pm and 6.30pm, compared to 77 per cent in 2012.

One of the Welsh Government’s key commitments is to make GP services more accessible to working people, which appears to be happening, although there remains discrepancies between health board areas.

Health minister Mark Drakeford said GPs across Wales are “working hard to take steps to extend opening hours beyond 5pm, making more appointments available.”

But he said the Welsh Government with the British Medical Association’s General Practitioners Committee in Wales are trying to improve access even further.

Aneurin Bevan Health Board has its own A For Access scheme to indicate which GP practices are maximising access for patients. The latest scoring round shows that 49 out of 89 practices have achieved a 5A access rating.