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Independents' Day

Opt-out to cause a jump in Monday morning workload

When we asked you what effect giving up out-of-hours would have, 1,168 GPs replied ­ Nerys Hairon reports

Most GPs expect Monday morning workload to climb when primary care organisations take over out-of-hours care.

Ninety per cent of GPs said they expected to have to offer more appointments on Monday mornings due to out-of-hours providers failing to deal with patients adequately over the weekend.

GPs also expressed major concerns about the ability of NHS Direct to step into the breach. Some 89 per cent said the nurse triage service would be unable to cope with the increased workload. More than nine GPs in 10 also warned A&E departments would be swamped with extra cases.

A clear majority of GPs also believed patients would get more inappropriate advice (72 per cent) and inappropriate medication (62 per cent).

GPC negotiator Dr Laurence Buckman said a rise in Monday morning workload was 'a completely expected consequence' of opting out ­ GPs were 'kidding themselves' if they expected otherwise.

'If you opt out there will be a surge of work on Monday mornings. Over the weekend things will brew,' Dr Buckman added.

Dr Mark Butt, a GP in Lowestoft, Suffolk, said his co-operative's experience of integrating with NHS Direct had shown GPs were more likely to be inundated with

in-hours appointments.

He added: 'This certainly has resource implications for practices ­ GPs, nurses and

receptionists will all be

busier.'

Dr Rob Dawson, a GP in Rowlands Gill, Tyne and Wear, warned that Mondays, Tuesdays and Fridays could all become even busier as patients knew they would not be seen over the weekend.

But Dr Mark Reynolds, chair of the National Association of GP Co-operatives, said he was confident co-ops would be able to cope with demand and spare in-hours GPs a deluge of work during the day.

'I hope that view is overly pessimistic. I really genuinely believe that as long as we can build the sort of organisations we are planning that really won't happen,' he said.

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