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At the heart of general practice since 1960

Gamble that was lost

From Dr Christopher Jones, Poole, Dorset

From Dr Christopher Jones, Poole, Dorset

National press reports of the reform of GP out-of-hours services paint a very one-sided view.

Three years ago, GPs agreed to a new contract with the Government, whose aims were to radically transform the provision of family and hospital medical services and introduce a target-driven system.

The reforms were not popular or proven, but the Government was fully aware the biggest incentive it could give GPs in order to achieve the desired reforms was the relinquishment of their 24-hour responsibility.

A figure of £6,000 a year was placed on the value of out-of-hours care, even though all doctors and politicians knew that the true cost was nearer £20,000.

If, however, the Government had put this latter figure on the negotiating table, they were fully aware that their proposals would have been rejected by the profession, and their reforms would not have occurred.

The gamble was therefore taken and, many people would say, the gamble was lost.However, because of the reforms, as GPs we are now having to work even more intensively during the daytime and having to adhere to ever-increasing targets and guidelines.

We have received a substantial pay rise for this, but continual maligning of family doctors by the press and politicians is leading to a very disheartened and increasingly militant profession.

Many older doctors are considering retiring early, while those of us who are younger are looking overseas to continue our careers. Ultimately the Government will be left with the health service it deserves.

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