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Europe rules out all SSRI use in teens and children

The vast majority of GPs are experiencing opt-out problems and many plan to retire early, Pulse's survey shows ­ by Anna Goldie

GPs have experienced significant difficulties opting out of out-of-hours and believe new providers will struggle to run the services.

Nearly four in five of the 1,110 GPs who responded to Pulse's survey said there had been some problems in their area with the transfer of responsibility for 24-hour cover.

More than one in five GPs said their opt-out had been delayed. Some 14 per cent said they had been 'blackmailed' by primary care organisations to work out-of-hours shifts, with PCOs threatening to put back GPs' opt-out date unless they signed up.

One in five GPs also said the quality of care offered by new services was not as good.

Dr Rahul Mohan, a GP in Nottingham, said he received regular complaints from patients about the out-of-hours care they received. 'Many patients have complained they have been seen by foreign doctors who they find very difficult to understand,' he said.

Dr Stewart Manning, a GP in Leeds, said: 'The big selling point to the contract was getting rid of out-of-hours work, but the result has been an increased workload day to day.'

The survey found 44 per cent of GPs plan to work some shifts next year.

Male GPs and those in rural areas and larger practices were most likely to work for new out-of-hours providers ­ and singlehanders and GPs in urban areas least likely.

Dr Alison Ritchie, a GP in Aberdeen, said one of her partners had quit the practice to work full-time for an out-of-hours provider.

However, 46 per cent of GPs said shifts in their area were proving hard to fill, with 39 per cent arguing pay rates were too low.

Just 17 per cent of GPs said there had been no problems in their area.

Dr William Murdoch, a GP in Birmingham, said he felt the out-of-hours care had been improving since the start of the contract.

'We are getting better referrals and fewer patients coming to us next day.'

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