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Are GPs not allowed family values?

The Government's pre-election plans to resume Saturday morning ‘emergency' surgeries and extend GPs' working days are definitely a no-go area. The thought of fragmenting out-of-hours provision once again seems such folly.

Which other country in the world has single family doctors providing general medical services at all times of the night and weekend? Not in Germany, France, Spain, Italy, Sweden, the US and so on.

The care provided by most out-of-hours providers is very good but there are a few that have had some logistic and organisational problems and these need to be addressed. We do not need what has been suggested – to completely fragment out-of-hours care nationally once again.

All those ‘super' GPs who think that only they can provide a satisfactory out-of-hours service should go and work for the provider in their area, work all the extra hours in the day they want, earn some extra money and treat the local population with their super-duper medical skills.

We should definitely not be going back to the dark ages of burnt-out, depressed, exhausted GPs with high levels of alcoholism and drug abuse – and even lower morale than exists now. The hours we worked then would be illegal now, taking into consideration working hours directives.

The infamous and expensive £11m survey showed a huge 86% of the population are happy with their GP's opening times.

Why is this now being selectively ignored?

Obviously it is just for political reasons. Surely the Government cannot be thinking of playing with our contracted working conditions purely as a political football? If a survey showed 86% levels of satisfaction with the Government, that would be astounding and would be placed on every billboard!

There is that 14% of dissatisfied punters who want to see a GP when it suits them because ‘they work for a living'. What? Don't I work for a living as well? Am I not entitled to go home after 10- or 11-hour days to the bosom of my family, or are GPs some weird inhuman working machines that should be able to work forever without breaks when Joe Public says they will – and to whom the term ‘normal working day' never applies.

From Dr Anthony DeWeever, Manchester

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