An out-of-hours opt-out of £4,000 will spark exodus
The pricing of out-of-hours work is causing great concern in our PCT. Our co-operative costs each GP principal member about £12,000 a year which effectively represents the current price GPs must pay to avoid doing out-of-hours work.
Our rates of pay to GPs doing out-of-hours work range from £40-£50 per hour and this reimburses GPs who opt to do their 'fair share' of out-of-hours work.
But we are currently in negotiations to work with a countywide out-of-hours body and we are looking at the costs per GP escalating to anywhere between £15,000 and £24,000.
If the cost to GPs to opt out of out-of-hours work is fixed around the £4,000-a-year mark there would be an inevitable massive exodus of GPs who would wish to cease providing out-of-hours cover with the PCT having to pay the difference between £11,000 and £20,000 per whole time equivalent.
These figures would be unsustainable in the long-term and would lead to a massive diversion of funds from in-hours primary care.
If the payment to GPs prepared to work out-of-hours increases as predicted, the figures quoted would inevitably rise.
It would seem the only way to prevent a such a crisis would be to set the cost to GPs who wish to opt out at a much higher level than currently anticipated.
Dr Philip Rathbone
Chair, Melton Rutland and Harborough Doctors