Prime Minister David Cameron has unveiled plans for the first wave of GP groups which will offer extended opening hours across England.

The idea is to make it easier for people see their family doctor from 8am to 8pm, seven days a week. Practices will apply to a new £50 million 'challenge fund' to set up a pioneer programme in nine areas which will cover up to half a million patients.

The pilot groups will also test "a variety of forward-thinking services to suit modern lifestyles", including greater use of Skype, email and phone consultations. The first wave will open during 2014/15. Mr Cameron, in Manchester for the Conservative Party conference,  said that "millions of people find it hard to get an appointment to see their GP at a time that fits in with their work and family life [and] we want to support GPs to modernise their services".

Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt added that "we live in a 24/7 society, and we need GPs to find new ways of working". He went on to say that "cutting-edge GP practices here in Manchester are leading the way, and we want many more patients across the country to benefit".

Shadow health secretary Andy Burnham was not impressed, saying on Twitter that Mr Cameron is seeking praise for "piloting in nine areas a Labour idea that was working in 75% of GP practices…until he scrapped it".