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At the heart of general practice since 1960

If I allow out-of-hours to lose me £10,000 I'd be a complete mug

Dr Philip Rathbone made a crucial point about out-of-hours (Letters, January 27). At present, we GPs are paid as contractors to provide out-of-hours cover for our patients. We are paid a small capitation, night visit fees, and out-of-hours development money.

For our practice, this is £3,000-£4,000 per GP per annum. But the co-operative we joined last year charges the real cost of providing the service, staffed by GPs. This is £14,000 per annum per GP.

So £4,000 minus £14,000 equals guess what? Minus £10,000!

This means we are out of pocket by £10,000 each per annum for helping provide a co-ordinated service in Somerset. Of course, we can earn some (not all) of that money back but only by working nights and weekends.

The key point is that it is not our responsibility to pay for the county service. It is up to the Department of Health.

If I let them take away £10,000, £14,000, or whatever it costs to provide a service, then I'm a complete mug ­ and the department will laugh all the way to the Treasury.

Dr Andrew Tresidder



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