GPs may quit over ‘immoral’ weekend plan

When they had a 24 hr contract, and could not attract women to the profession as partners, GPs life was “flexible” in that there was the opportunity to arrange the day according to need. Patients understood that, in order to cover “emergencies”, their GP might suddenly have to disappear, and that he might be late attending. Since the “new contract” GPs have not had to do Out of Hours (OOH) and weekends, and their lives have been altered dramatically. The days are all intense to the point that I often hear that a GP has lunch on their computer keyboard or in the car between visits. Nobody qualifying plans to do a five day week, as the hours of each day are so long. More GPs should have been planned 15-20 years ago… and its too late now.

So when Chris Smyth reports in The Times 20th May 2016: GPs may quit over ‘immoral’ weekend plan, and it is rejected there is a long history behind this. A gender bias now means 80% + of GPs are now women, and more likely to do fewer hours… There is more resentment about being let down in the promise of avoiding OOH than there ever was resentment at having to contribute on a cooperative rota in 1998..

Chaand Nagpaul, chairman of the British Medical Association’s GP committee, said the mass resignation of doctors was an “impending reality” as they face intolerable pressure from too many patients.

Patients might also have longer waiting times so doctors could spend more time with the sickest people, for whom ten-minute appointments were neither “humane nor defensible”, he said.

The fresh attack on David Cameron’s push for a seven-day NHS came amid widespread relief in government at the deal on a new contract for junior doctors, which the government claims is essential for improving hospital care at the weekend.

Yesterday a conference of local medical committees from around the country voted to reject routine weekend GP appointments. Dr Nagpaul told the conference that doctors would press “to ensure that the priority for seven days is where it should always be — for properly funded urgent care and GP out-of-hours services, and we must reject the immorality of taking GPs away from caring for acutely ill patients to sit in empty surgeries superfluous to need.”

A spokeswoman for the Department of Health said: “We are determined that patients will be able to see GPs at a time and place to suit them [and that] GPs have the right resources to deliver this.”

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This entry was posted in A Personal View, Stories in the Media on by .

About Roger Burns - retired GP

I am a retired GP and medical educator. I have supported patient participation throughout my career, and my practice, St Thomas; Surgery, has had a longstanding and active Patient Participation Group (PPG). I support the idea of Community Health Councils, although I feel they should be funded at arms length from government. I have taught GP trainees for 30 years, and been a Programme Director for GP training in Pembrokeshire 20 years. I served on the Pembrokeshire LHG and LHB for a total of 10 years. I completed an MBA in 1996, and I along with most others, never had an exit interview from any job in the NHS! I completed an MBA in 1996, and was a runner up for the Adam Smith prize for economy and efficiency in government in that year. This was owing to a suggestion (St Thomas' Mutual) that practices had incentives for saving by being allowed to buy rationed out services in the following year.

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