My time and motion study shows workload has risen
From Dr Steve Haigh
Livingston, West Lothian
Some years ago I recognised that the only way to judge the number of hours I worked was to do a proper time and motion study. I have done this for at least a month every year or two since 1997 and I present the results of my average weekly hours worked since 2000.
On each occasion there are different variables, and the contract is just one of them.
• 2000 – 63h 13m
• 2002 – 65h 11m
• 2004 – 60h 29m
• 2005 – 61h 39m
• 2006 – 62h 27m
In 2004 I was still doing some sessions for the out-of-hours co-op, but this was no longer the case from 2005 onwards. Hours worked for the BMA/LMC are not included (nor are meal breaks – as they do not exist!). My practice sessions are unchanged.
It is unwise to jump to too many conclusions from this data, but I would say the main messages are that I and many other GPs work many more than the 52 hours recently quoted as the average GP working week, and that since my out-of-hours work is now zero, it is clear that my so-called 'in hours' have substantially increased since the introduction of nGMS.
It is also fair to say that in 20 years of being a doctor my hours have never been less than this (and indeed were initially many more).
GPs and MPs alike must remember that the contract was introduced at a time when GPs were threatening to resign and there was significant cause for concern about recruitment and retention. It was recognised that GPs were already doing a great deal of work for which they were not being paid, and the contract sought to address this.
The deal, as I understood it, was that any additional new work would be resourced with new money.
The average GP had a substantial pay rise in the first year of the contract, but in my practice profits fell in the second and are due to fall even further this year. If we are to continue to retain and recruit GPs in future we must continue to address the workload of the average full-time GP.
'No new work without new money' is an essential means to an end in achieving this.
, and those MPs and Government negotiators who seriously underestimate both the workload and goodwill of GPs must not be allowed to persuade us otherwise.