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Oh no you can't...

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It’s panto season. And at this point, it looks very much like GPs aren’t going to the ball. Because, in terms of whether we can shut up shop early on 24 and 31 December, it’s recently been a case of oh no you can’t, oh yes you can, oh no you can’t.

And, according to a letter from NHS England entitled, ‘GP Practice Opening Times – Christmas and New Year’, ‘oh no you can’t’ is where it ends.  This clamp down, the letter acknowledges, ‘cuts across some longstanding practice’ but it is ‘non-negotiable’.

Of course, it would be easy to hiss at the panto-villain signatory of the letter, Dr David Geddes. So let’s do that. A flimsy rationale that these dates might be the ‘only opportunity for patients who are otherwise working to attend to collect prescription medication and review prior to the festive season’ certainly does deserve some rotten tomatoes – given that we all know, in truth, that the opportunity it really presents is for them to get pissed, fall over and end up in casualty.

Some of the other points made – about our contracted hours, winter pressures, subliminal messages to patients – are fair enough. But they’ll be lost in the ill will generated by a decision hinging on what exactly constitutes, at a time of notoriously low demand, a service meeting the ‘reasonable needs of patients’.

Dr Geddes is a GP, of course. So he’s behind you! Or rather, it seems, he isn’t.

Dr Tony Copperfield is a GP in Essex. You can email him at tonycopperfield@hotmail.com and follow him on Twitter @DocCopperfield.

 

Readers' comments (5)

  • A GP dancing to the Government's tune.

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  • Totally agree. This is vindictive nonsense. Trying to offer appointments to patients late on Xmas or New Years Eve is a complete waste of time. They are not interested. As with weekend appointments, patients will have better things to do but those in power would not like to think of GPs getting home early to spend some time with their families

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  • We held two hour surgeries on Saturdays and Sundays throughout January last year to help 'winter pressure' and averaged 1 patient per session. We hardly ever get anyone Christmas Eve afternoon - apart from those wishing to off-load elderly relatives who simply cannot cope at home any longer.

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  • Mark my words, this isn't anything to do with the needs of patients on Christmas Eve: nor is it anything to do with common sense - we all know how quiet surgeries are then. No, this is purely and simply a matter of GPs locking antlers with NHS England in what the government see as a battle to show who is boss. And don't say I didn't warn you, ladies and gentlemen - if we let them get away with it this time, next year they'll be expecting us to work Christmas Day and Boxing Day between 8am and 8pm for no extra money.

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  • he may no have realised that this is a good opportunity to demonstrate how "demand" is more about patient convenience than medical need

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From: Copperfield

Dr Tony Copperfield is a jobbing GP in Essex with more than a few chips on his shoulder