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GPs are finally standing up for themselves - about time too

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The Queen said: “The rule is, jam to-morrow and jam yesterday – but never jam to-day”’ - Lewis Carroll

I had the dubious pleasure of speaking to a number of local BBC radio stations yesterday about why GPs do not want to open on Easter Saturday.

‘It is not too much to ask, is it?’ I was asked repeatedly by the presenters. ‘Why won’t they do it when they are being offered £650 for a morning’s work?’

Of course I corrected the notion that £650 (or over £1,000 in some areas) is money that slides straight into GP’s pockets. ‘GPs are small businesses like any other,’ I impugned. ‘They have to minus expenses, tax and other costs from this.’

GPs are already exhausted from working 12-hour days during the week and, besides, there are special out-of-hours services that are specially paid to give access to GPs when needed.

‘But,’ I made sure to add. ‘This is nothing to do with the money. GPs are tired of short-term, sticking plaster solutions, when what managers should do is deal with the systemic problems in the NHS.’

And I was happy to be able to make this last point before my microphone was cut off, and also perhaps skewer some misconceptions about the venality of GPs along the way.

There is something very wrong with a health service that is continuing winter ‘emergency’ measures through into mid-Spring.

The fact a ‘resilience’ plan is needed at all for a bank holiday weekend that occurs every year (and in the absence of any flu epidemic or particularly inclement weather) really says it all.

If I was more cynical, I would put it down to managers not wanting more negative NHS headlines in the lead up to an election.

We are entering what appears to be a permanent state of crisis within the NHS, and GPs are sick of being the caretaker mopping up after the rest of the service

Quite rightly, the profession is beginning to take a stand on workload being dumped on them from all angles. It is about time too.

As Alice said in response to being offered ‘jam tomorrow’ by the White Queen when she went through the Looking Glass, ‘I don’t want you to hire ME - and I don’t care for jam.’

Nigel Praities is editor of Pulse

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Readers' comments (21)

  • Agree, but why nothing from the BMA, GPC, RCGP?

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  • Our supposed leaders silence is deafening,time to stand up and be counted,not tread the easy line in the hope of getting some kind of congralatory pat on the back from the big bully in the playground.

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  • a plumber would charge more just for the callout fee.

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  • Hat's off to Nigel!

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  • The centre has never forgiven GP's for their own oversight with out of hours in the 2004 contract. The MP's I spoke to after were furious that GP's stopped Saturday morning surgeries which they thought were in the core contract. It then cost significantly more to provide the cover as well as the QoF payments. There is such poor understanding in the decision makers of how the NHS works and how the funding flows. There is the expectation it is all one big happy family all pulling together to help patients. The reality is demand exceeds capacity and so work is shunted around the system hoping it will be done for free. There is no system or service that is free to the end user that is not overwhelmed.

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  • Well done Sir and thank you

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  • ...what managers should do is deal with the systemic problems in the NHS....

    I thought GPs had been put in charge?

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  • Thanks Nigel. At least someone is on our side.

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  • GPs dont really have much power at all just the select few.GPs are being given scapegoat positions for when the whole system fails under its own weight.

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  • I bet at least 50% of practices open!

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