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Independents' Day

Only half of GPs will do shifts

Half of GPs plan to work out-of-hours shifts after their practice opts out.

But just one GP in eight believes covering nights or weekends will be 'a significant earner' for them, despite rocketing out-of-hours rates of up to £140,000 a year being offered in some areas.

Overall, 83 per cent of GPs said they intended to ditch their 24-hour responsibility by the end of the year.

Two in five expect to work enough shifts with co-operatives or deputising services to cover the average £6,000 per practice cost of opting out.

Forty-seven per cent of GPs will do no out-of-hours work at all.

Dr Mark Reynolds, chair of the National Association of GP Co-operatives, said surveys by co-ops had found as many as 70 per cent of GPs were willing to work shifts in some areas. But he admitted out-of-hours organisations faced a 'nail-biting' job to reconfigure their service with only half the current GP workforce.

'I think this will just about be enough people, especially if skill mix comes on stream,' he said. 'The new out-of-hours organisations may have people who do largely out-of-hours for their jobs. All out-of-hours organisations are anxious about getting enough people to work.'

GPC negotiator Dr Laurence Buckman said areas where most GPs had opted out and did not want to work shifts would encounter difficulties.

Dr Chris Cottam, a GP in Barrow-in-Furness, Cumbria, said he would 'rather have the time than the money'.

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