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GP opening hours to be included in NHS review of urgent and emergency care


In response to Terry Jones: your comparison of general practice to engineering is misguided. Engineering covers a wide range of professions from electrical or gas engineers to civil engineers... Not all of these are subject to equivalent academic training and professional development as GPs. Fixing an electrical fault or a problem with network cabling ( as examples) is not equivalent to health care. Our patients usually have a hierarchy of health concerns. They will usually seek medical advice when they perceive something to be important or serious. One patient with a headache will book an appointment fearing a brain tumour another may ignore it as probably nothing yet see the GP for his/her abdominal pain instead.... A patient's health agenda does not go away. Instead their priorities change. In the example above once the patient has had their headache assessed they may be reassured and this problem falls to a lower priority. They may then book another appointment to address their abdominal pain. This constant shifting of health priorities means that there is an almost infinite demand for GP services. This is the reason we cannot thin our service out over the week to a 7 day working schedule... The demand for appointments would not decrease over the weekdays. The very patients seen during the week would create demand for appointments at the weekend with (understandably) new health priorities. General practice is stretched to breaking point at present. GPs routinely work 12 or more hours per day and everyone I know is unable to finish the days's work in those hours. 7 day opening would not reduce the weekday workload and as such would be unworkable. Some commentators have suggested that GPs should simply employ more doctors to create extra staff. As many have said already on this site, most GPs do not earn the sums that the daily mail suggests. To cut GP pay further would leave the profession open to market forces... That is future students and graduates will decide that the social/emotional cost of the job (never seeing your family, stress, increasing loss of autonomy and professional independence) does not match the economic benefit (I.e take home pay) and satisfaction derived from the practice of medicine... Recruitment to general practice will dry up and the system will collapse. .... Actually, never mind recruiting new GPs, the country may struggle to hold on to the ones it has already!

Posted date

19 Jan 2013

Posted time