Out-of-hours: why the burden will linger on
One of the most fundamental changes to general practice since the formation of the NHS is about to take place GPs will be able to buy out their out-of-hours responsibility. This was arguably the reason many voted for the new contract.
Opting out will bring important changes for practices to consider. Those who do will be responsible for their patients from 8am to 6.30pm Monday to Friday and this will require a rethink of arrangements, for instance, for the terminally ill.
But, if GPs in north Yorkshire are typical, there will be few left to carry the out-of-hours load. This raises important concerns about the cost and quality of the service that will inevitably impact on GPs not least on Monday mornings.
The yoke of out-of-hours responsibility may be about to be lifted, but GPs will continue to feel its weight for some time.