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Junior doctors' loss is GPs' gain

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Apparently I have something in common with Jeremy Hunt: neither of us do surgeries on Saturday. I used to, as a new GP partner, but we eventually stopped the clinic when it became clear that the counting-the-multiple-DNAs-of-hungover-students-who’ve-decided-they-couldn’t-get-out-of-bed-for-their-pill-repeat-interspersed-with-seeing-the-retired-worried-well-who-could-just-as-easily-wait-til-Monday-and-besides-they’ll-only-need-to-come-back-for-their-blood-tests-anyway game wasn’t worth the paltry-addition-to-dwindling-practice-funds candle. This left me free to spend Saturday morning huddling like an emperor penguin by the side of a cold rainy field, texting. Or ‘enjoying quality time with my family’, as it’s apparently called.

Saturday can’t be simultaneously a normal work day and the only day people can see their GPs

Why am I telling you this? Well, you might have noticed the big row in the NHS right now about Saturday working. You see, junior doctors have had the audacity to suggest that Saturdays are somehow different to normal working days, and should be remunerated accordingly. The Government argues that this old-fashioned idea is ’out of line with the wider economy’. This was news to me, but I guess I’m just as out of touch as the juniors. It turns out they’ve abolished weekends, and I was too busy to notice.

We’d better start getting the word out fast, because this has far-reaching implications. For starters, some idiot’s gone and arranged the FA Cup final on a Saturday! I know - a Saturday. Everyone will be at work! The same antiquated mug must be responsible for scheduling Glastonbury at the weekend. Caterers, church halls and DJs will have to rethink their pricing structures, seeing as no-one will be turning up to weddings on Saturdays any more (except, presumably, those lazy junior doctors, who we’re told only work traditional office hours). Transport for London will have to redefine their peak times to accommodate the hordes of Saturday morning commuters. And may God have mercy on the soul of whoever has to tell the teachers.

However, there’s one good thing to come out of this: we GPs are constantly told that we have to open our surgeries on Saturdays for people who ’didn’t want to take a day off work’. In the olden days, when Saturdays were special, that argument might have held water, but in this Brave New Weekend-less World it clearly no longer applies. The Government can’t have it both ways: Saturday can’t be simultaneously a normal work day and the only day people can see their GPs. So the juniors’ loss is our gain, comrades! Everyone will be at work except us. Well, us and Jeremy Hunt, obviously. 

Dr Pete Deveson is a GP in Surrey. You can follow him on Twitter @PeteDeveson

 

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Readers' comments (17)

  • hee hee hee!!! touche.

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  • Bet Jezza didnt think of that one

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  • Petition: Parliament to sit on Saturdays which should be a "normal working day" for MPs.
    https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/120753

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  • I am sorry, I will have to disagree with you. I have worked saturday morning surgeries and they are ususally very busy. they are very popular amongst patients. I have heard of some practices opening on saturdays, not advertising greatly and not having easy access and then counting DNA and blaming pts. I think that it is very disingenious of us GPs to dismiss saturdays as not enough demand.

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  • Well done. Anti-spinning. Love it.

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  • 10.07
    I would think this depends largely on what availability there is during the week, e.g late evenings, and your practice demographic. Horses for courses.

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  • Current gov slashed extended hours payments then spent the next half decade whinging about lack of gp extended hour access!

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  • Quite right....you cannot have it both ways.
    To find the truth, follow the money....

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  • 10:07, 11:42.

    Perhaps you are both right. There probably is a demand for Saturday mornings, just as there is a demand for Sunday evening, and a demand for antibiotics with each sniffle. Our job cannot be simply to accede to every demand, or what's the point of us? So create a LES and let surgeries volunteer if they wish.

    The issue is one of compulsion; of ordering us to open our doors 12/7 with no evidence of patient demand or benefit. My own surgery audited our patients attending on Saturday mornings under our Extended hours LES before we ultimately scrapped it. Fill rate? 86%. Average age of those attending? 74. Net profit per extended hours appointment? £12.54. Number of patients not seen in conventional hours in the past 6 months? 3.7%.

    So, if you want to see the same old punters on Saturday morning for £12 a go, good luck. But I am a professional, don't order me, ask me. And I'll give you a beautifully evidenced answer as to why it's a poor use of our already limited resources.

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  • Saturday.hmmm? When does a GP go and see his own GP when he is unwell .
    Working day..takes time out and makes an appointment. Free Health service should be appreciated , we all take time out for work for far more silly things than health so why not take time our from work for health?

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