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GPs deserve the best they can get for doing out-of-hours

Over the years, GPs have been progressively reducing the amount of out-of-hours work they do. Faced with an escalating in-hours workload, they had little choice if they were

to preserve their health and sanity.

The responsibility, however, remained and has undoubtedly contributed to the relative unattractiveness to young doctors of a career in general practice.

A big selling point of the new contract, therefore, was its promise to allow all GPs to give up all their out-of-hours responsibilities. Complaints from PCOs that they cannot afford to pay the going rate for GPs to cover out-of-hours shifts just show how cheap the service GPs traditionally provided had become.

What is likely to become increasingly clear over the coming months is how effective – both medically and economically – the service was.

With the intense in-hours workload GPs carry, it is no longer safe or acceptable for them to work both day and night. Pay for out-of-hours work has to be sufficient to allow those GPs who wish to do it, to take appropriate time off in the daytime.

GPs deserve what they can get for giving up their nights and weekends.

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