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Extended hours DES 'puts GPs at greater risk of attack'

By Nigel Praities

English GPs face a much greater risk of being assaulted or attacked in their surgeries compared to their colleagues in Scotland and Wales under the strict terms of the extended access agreements with PCTs, the GPC has warned.

In the same week as the NHS Security Management Service launched a poster campaign to highlight the wave of NHS staff from being assaulted whilst they are at work, the GPC says the inflexible conditions placed on the directed enhanced service in England may be unsafe for GPs.

In contrast with the DES introduced in Scotland and Wales from April, GPs are not able to increase their hours by working concurrently, so that two GP-led parallel surgeries carried out for two hours would count for four hours toward their extended hours requirement.

English GPs are also not able to shift daytime surgeries into the evening to ensure, as allowed in the Scottish DES, or count extra nurse appointments as part of their extended hours, as allowed in Wales.

Dr Richard Vautrey, GPC deputy chair, says this will result in more GPs in England working alone and put in danger of being attacked.

‘We have grave concerns about GPs being expected to work on their own late at night as there are a number of incidents that I am aware of where GPs were attacked when leaving their surgery as they were suspected of carrying drugs in their bag,' he said.

To prevent this from happening Dr Vaultrey advised that GPs took the opportunity of negotiating a local agreement with their PCTs in order to ensure GPs were not working alone in their practices in the evenings.

PCTs are able to develop local LES agreements, as long as they ensure that at least 50% of their practices are offering extended hours appointments in the evening or on a Saturday mornings.

But some LMCs are struggling to get their PCTs to agree to an extended hours LES. Dr Andrew Mimnagh, a GP in Sefton, Merseyside and chair of Sefton LMC, said he was still waiting for a decision from his PCT about whether GPs could work concurrently and shift daytime surgeries to evening slots.

‘The PCT has not said no, but is waiting for the national terms for the DES before deciding. They have been quite hard-line about shifting daytime surgeries to the evening, as they don't want to fall foul of the government's requirements,' he said.

Attacks on staff: subject of new poster campaign but DES could cause more Attacks on staff: subject of new poster campaign but DES could cause more

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