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£100,000? Don't forget the patients

I feel I have to reply to Dr Brook's comments (Letters, March 12) on the poor GP looking after 6,000 patients and how she supposedly must earn £200,000 a year. I'm afraid this letter typifies the lack of understanding by well-off GPs in leafy suburbs (even if they don't wear tweed, red trousers or boating shoes!) of the situation of GPs working in deprived areas.

I work in what is supposed to be a four-partner practice, in an undesirable inner-city area that is currently being covered by myself and one half-time doctor. In order to keep the practice running, it is necessary to employ locums, to the minimum possible degree, at a fee which in this area is usually £500 per day.

The result of this is that locums coming in for occasional sessions earn as much in seven days as I take home for working 8am-10pm six days a week for a month. They only see a few patients, leaving the paperwork and everything else behind.

It is astoundingly unfair that doctors working minimal hours in practices with relatively well patients in well-off areas that are well-doctored always receive more than those struggling in inner cites with chronically-ill patients and no colleagues who want to join them due to their poor income.

Of course the well-off doctors could not possibly suffer any drop in income, and tend to have time to leave the surgery and attend BMA meetings and the like, so redistribution of resources never happens.

Any system developed that would actually pay doctors according to the work done is quickly stopped by the powers that be ­ the prime example of course being the dreaded square root prevalence formula.

If the Government want doctors to be where the need is, they should adjust the distribution of resources accordingly.

Of course it might mean a few doctors in Dorset have to trade down from their BMWs, but at least the inner-city GPs might be rewarded for the work they do.

A doctor in a not very leafy city somewhere in the UK

(name and address supplied)

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