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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)

  • Doctors are one of the best students. What makes them think the doctors cannot work the maths out? Over half goes to pension and tax and the risk one takes plus a new additional regulator NHS Resolutions now in addition to the GMC.
    In shares there is a potential for greater returns if one take higher risks. In this you are certain you have less return taking higher risks and one might even be struck off, loose all their previously earned pension and end up in jail if a patient waits too long and died being charged with Gross Negligence Manslaughter.
    In the UK you get punished for helping a busy unit like Dr BG. In Australia, the Good Samaritian Law prevents this. Far more helpful and sensible.

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  • Understaffing + under paying + not even rostering some shifts = profit ££££

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  • A lot of comments about pay being important--but we have enetered an honourable vocation.

    Anyway when the rate hits £200 an hour let me know

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  • I asked one of my registrars how many of his contemporaries would be doing general practice if they were to earn £250,000 a year. He said "all of them".

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  • GNM, jail, loss of pension do you really want to be a GP in the UK.
    Loss of Pension for an accusation now, not even a conviction!!
    Run away please from this madness and lunacy. I have stayed too long.

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  • surely this OOH provider should be penalised for breach of contract - this is unacceptable and staffing is their own issued.

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  • Compare: accountant/solicitor quote to advise on TUPE matters... £350 (plus VAT) per hour.
    ‘Not willing to work’ - a shocking, shameful thing to say. It’s the lowest form of manipulation, to try to use our guilt to make us work for peanuts in a broken and unsafe system.
    The solution to the workforce crisis has always been obvious: it’s the terms and conditions. Simple, basic free market economics.

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  • The market should be allowed to determine this, surely. The provider can’t provide the service, the commissioner must find another provider. If no provider can provide the service at the price advertised, the CCG will have to spend more. This will enable the provider to spend more money to actually recruit staff and run a service.
    Of course, the reverse is done in hospitals: they spend the money to run the service then the CCG or NHSE has to stump up the cash no matter how far over a nominal budget they have gone.
    This is why commissioners have battened down and failed to invest or cut investment in the only part of the system they can actually influence spend in. This is why community services, OOH and general practice have suffered so much.

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  • AL "4 TRIES IN ONE GAME" BUNDY

    The OOH used to have a nurse practitioner and one doctor ..
    now they dont even have a nurse practitioner..

    Having a trainee registrar is not supposed to help with workload
    train them don't just use them

    rightly or wrongly
    sepsis awareness means that
    medicolegally every case nees a full assessment with full recording of all parameters and the documenting of a NEWS score...
    No additional time is allowed fort this
    No health care assistants are used to gather this date before the patient is seen
    10 minute appts??

    Bawa Garba Scapegoating liability for any adverse outcome..

    No Thank You

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  • where is the CQC in this. They will punish a surgery immediately for lapses but OOH is allowed to get away with unsafe practice going on all year. Our local OOH have loads of unfilled shifts and don't provide a safe service but got passed by CQC because their office paper work was in order. Honestly CQC should hang their heads in shame.

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