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GPs buried under trusts' workload dump

Out-of-hours service shut due to not enough GPs ‘willing to work’

Out-of-hours services were forced to shut in Greater Glasgow this month due to a shortage of GPs ‘willing to work’, with problems continuing.

NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde confirmed it had ‘no choice’ but to temporarily close the service at all but one of its centres between midnight on Saturday 1 June and 07:59 on Sunday 2 June, instead offering only home visits.

During last weekend, between 7 and 9 June, three OOH centres were closed 'for a few hours' at certain points, with three others also being shut for longer periods - though NHS Greater Glasgow claimed most of its nine centres were open the majority of time.

The BMA Scotland said it was ‘disappointed’ the service had to close, and that it demonstrated the ‘challenges being faced by primary care and indeed all health services’ in the country.

A spokesperson from NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde said: ‘Due to a shortage of GPs willing to work we had no choice but to only provide a home visiting service on Saturday night between midnight and 07:59am on Sunday morning except for one centre at the Vale of Leven Hospital. We made every effort to fill this shift.'

The spokesperson added: 'Over the weekend (7-9 June) the majority of our nine centres were open the majority of the time.

'Centres in the New Victoria Hospital, Greenock Health Centre and Vale of Leven Hospital were closed for a few hours over the weekend.

'The only centres which were closed for longer were Easterhouse Health Centre, the Queen Elizabeth University Hospital and Inverclyde Royal Hospital’s out-of-hours service.'

They said: ‘Patients should always contact NHS24 first and they will direct the patient to the most appropriate healthcare service for their needs after being fully assessed.’

BMA Scottish GP Committee chair Dr Andrew Buist said: ‘We are disappointed that an overnight out-of-hours GP service was unable to be provided in Greater Glasgow. It demonstrates the challenges being faced by primary care – and indeed all health services - right across the country.

‘Scotland is in the midst of a period of transition with regards to the recruitment and retention of GPs, and there is no quick fix to the long-standing problems we are facing. However, the Scottish GP contract that came into force last year is designed specifically to address inappropriate excessive workloads and improve recruitment and retention of GPs.'

He added: ‘We need to give the contract sufficient time to make the changes needed including the development of multidisciplinary teams that will ease the kind of pressures GPs report.:

Dr Buist said the changes would lead to more people choosing to be a GP, or staying in their job longer, 'which is the only way that issues with out-of-hours care will be solved'.

Last summer it was revealed that OOH centres in Glasgow were closed on more than 100 occasions over a 12-month period due to a lack of GPs.

OOH services have been struggling in Fife as well, with cuts being made by the Scottish health board and Fife council to the opening hours.

Elsewhere in Wales, BMA Wales has warned the out of hours services has reached ‘crisis point’ from the shortage of OOH GPs.

Readers' comments (30)

  • You mean "GPs not willing to work for crap pay and poor working conditions".

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  • BMA Scottish GPC chair Dr Andrew Buist said:
    ‘We need to give the (new) contract sufficient time to make the changes needed including the development of multidisciplinary teams (magic pixies) that will ease the kind of pressures GPs report.’
    Suggest that you confine your comedy (delusions) to the boardroom!

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  • why would you work nights and weekends when you get the same rate for daytime work? turning work down daily as already fully booked up for next 9 months. one OOH pays the same rate as it did in 2012. the cover for MDO by the NHS just means if we charge the same we actually get a pay rise for once. In reality the pay rate should be £150 - 300 an hour depending on the time and if a BH or not. you get what you pay for - in this case - nothing

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  • Bet they are not market rates,if you pay them (properly) they will come,pay the peanuts they will chuck them back at you.

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  • New contract does nothing to address out of hour shortages. The pay is appalling, and receiving emails weekly that blame me for not being willing to work doesn’t encourage me to do so. They had a charismatic and enthusiastic clinical lead, but even he’s now gone, so it’s just unsafe conditions and poor pay left behind. Also the trainee shifts reinforce how unsupported you’ll be post CCT, so they also need to fix the registrar experience to encourage people to stay on. Even nearby Lanarkshire has better support for trainees on OOH.

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  • 15 years ago 75 quid an hour at the weekend, same rate today. CCG members pay themselves 85 quid an hour for daytime work, meanwhile back at the ranch after deductions it's less than the minimum wage

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  • Suspect NHSE have a cunning plan to dump OOH on PCN's. Watch this space

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  • Cobblers

    20 odd years ago not having a doctor for a Co-op shift was not an option. The rates for the more unpopular shifts were therefore correspondingly higher, sometimes a lot higher.

    The attitude of this organisation is "This is the (sh1t) job and this is the (sh1t) pay and we can't get GPs. To blame the GPs for what is a management problem is typical of the numpties that are in charge.

    The trouble is a lot of the population will blame the GPs. Until their GP is no longer around and then they might wonder how it came to pass.

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  • It doesn't matter who blames who. The bottom line is that not having experienced GPs to gate keep ends up being more expensive.
    Why this evidence based fact doesn't percolate through is the mystery.
    It's almost as if it is wilfully ignored. Time will out this eventually as junior doctors meanwhile over investigate and over admit in stretched A&E departments.

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  • So one article below there is a practice that is closer because there were not enough people around to keep the service safe during eid.
    But the ooh provider can just say no thanks when recruitment is a little tougher than expected?

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