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Don't turn the clock back on out-of-hours

I used to be a full-time partner working 50-plus hours a week and voted for the new contract to lose the 24-hour responsibility.

I had to work overnight once a week in a large practice and all weekend.

In those days it was just me in my car with my mobile phone. I don't think it would be up to modern standards. It was ridiculous and unsafe and our efforts went unrewarded.

With the advent of co-operatives, I was expected to do some out-of-hours work and so I took a pay cut to opt out. Practices were charged when a patient called the service. How on earth did we end up with that sort of deal?

I am now a locum and have time to do some out-of-hours work again, which in the Southampton area is well organised. I even enjoy doing it.

If there are more complaints about out-of-hours services now, I put it down to the increasing demands and expectations of our patients. I'm amazed the LMC vote was marginally in favour of GPs commissioning out-of-hours services. Why take on responsibility for a budget that will always be insufficient and under strain?

Let PCTs learn good practice from one another. Please don't turn the clock back.

Dr Heather Mycock, Southampton

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