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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)


    General practice is in a bad way
    people cannot get appointments
    people do not feel they are getting the investigations they feel they need
    alot are then just using the OOH as an alternative..
    do they realise that many ooh's do not have access to the patients record ..

    this makes it all the more stressful

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    ‘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 ...

    How many doctors and cars used for all the centres
    suspect one
    and then once closer to morning
    advised to contact own gp
    or call centre again

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  • It is perfectly acceptable for junior solicitors to charge £280/h excluding VAT to prepare your case then charge you for time on top of that.
    Imagine you spent 2h reading on diabetes and charging for the reading time and the consultation time. Why is it acceptable for lawyers not doctors? Because lawyers run the country.

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  • This is a problem for the board, it isn't a GP problem.
    I have worked for GEMS since it's inception, but due to ill health I suspect I won't return. There were occasions, when a centre was shut, patients were sent to other centres resulting in doctors seeing twice the number of patients (for no additional money incidentally!)

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  • I work in Glasgow OOH, and it’s not just occasionally centres are closed it’s every day and we’re being asked at every shift to see multiple others centres shifts for no extra money. It’s dangerous, no back up, no management support and pay is terrible and insulting. I’m doing a 6 hour evening shift this week, £ 68 per hour, if I was doing the home visiting shifts it would be £53 an hour!!! If I was a junior doc in A&E doing locums then would get double!

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  • Lostthewilltolive. You are at high risk, getting a raw deal and risk earning nothing and losing all your previous pension. It does not pay to help. Just look at what you get after tax and you could, god forbid, easily be the next Dr BG as the staffing shortage and how busy you are is not taken into account.

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  • Low pay, busy shifts, no access to notes increasing risk of error & because patients not familiar more likely to make a complaint. Also deal with acutely ill population so higher chance being involved in an unexpected death with the ensuing stress of coroners court, being named & pictured in national media, risk of prosecution & being criminalised.
    Also the pensions mess means people less likely to do overtime.
    The only positive is state indemnity- before April my MPS bill was £18500 p/a!!!
    Also 111- patients encouraged to ring for anything & everything but because staffed by non clinicians cases passed to OOH GP team who can not deal with the workload. Need to reduce demand not drive it up...
    Also GP registrars witness how understaffed & potentially unsafe the service can be so are not keen to sign up once qualified.

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  • please-delete-this-fucking-profile-i-cant-delete-it-in-my-account-settings

    imagine a supermarket closing it's doors with the explanation that it was all down to the checkout staff who were 'unwilling to work'

    ..apparently we're 'in a period of transition' ..
    transition from what to what you might ask? Transition from bad to ..well..worse i guess.

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  • The whole tone of ‘not enough GPs willing to work’ is outrageous. I’ve done some OOH work but gave it up as terrible pay, no notes and constant general emails from the organisation saying they are auditing your work. Why did you spend so long with patient X? Also, uplift of pay if you see/triage more than average. How ethical is that? I don’t run particularly late in my own surgery so I can do without that.

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  • First goes OOH then day time GP. At the moment it is sitting perfectly for US corporate to step in and "help".

    To be honest I will happily work in private healthcare. I suspect there will be less home visits if they are £150 each.

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