Co-ops struggling to fill Christmas rotas
GP co-operatives have struggled to fill Christmas rotas for out-of-hours shifts despite offering increased fees, a straw poll by Pulse has revealed.
Overall, GPs are set for a cheaper festive period with co-ops applying only a nominal bank holiday surcharge, if any at all.
The hike in shift rates over the festive period is also not being passed on to GPs, co-ops reported.
Blackburn and District Medical Co-op said it had increased Christmas shift rates by around 5 per cent.
The increase means GPs will earn more than double pay, totalling £115 an hour on Christmas Day, New Year's Eve and part of New Year's Day.
Co-op manager Marilyn Rushton said it still had to make an appeal to GPs for Christmas volunteers despite putting rates up.
'We thought the rates of pay would make it easier but we have struggled to fill it,' she told Pulse.
GPs using the co-op will be charged a bank holiday surcharge of 10 per cent for visits and consultations, the same rate as last year.
Dr Paul Hobday, a medical director of Maidstone Doctors on Call, said its GPs would not be charged a public holiday surcharge because the co-op was receiving £30,000 of Government winter pressures money to pay for extra shifts.
'We really pressurise people into doing their bit,' he said. 'People have got to do a couple of shifts two or three shifts over a 10-day Christmas period.'
Harmoni co-op in west London said it would not be charging GPs any public holiday surcharge, and charges and shift rates had gone up in line with overall annual pay increases.
Dr David Lloyd, a director of the co-op, said GPs would earn double pay over Christmas and bank holidays. This amounts to £60 an hour before midnight and £90 an hour after midnight for primary care centre sessions; and for visits, £73 an hour before midnight and £110 an hour after midnight.
Dr Lloyd said the co-op had introduced a system of fines to help ensure GPs honoured the rota.
'GPs who do not turn up for shifts get a £250 fine,' he said. 'Before we introduced the fine system people would cancel at the last moment or give the rota man a hard time, but that's improved now.'