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GPs buried under trusts' workload dump

Why I absolutely think we should work weekends

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Honk! Yeah, that was me supporting the junior’s strike yesterday as opposed to me puking up at the thought of having to cope without my trusty, striking trainee.

So it might sound odd to hear that I absolutely support weekend work being viewed as routine, both for hos-docs and GPs, but bear with me.

I actually find it hard to articulate how bonkers I view the Government’s obsession with promulgating the idea that medical care should be available to everyone, all the time. Whenever I try to express why this is so wrong, I just end up banging my head against the nearest wall and sobbing uncontrollably.

I support weekend working. So long as, of course, that it means we stop weekday working

To summarise as best I can: there is too much medicine. The better access we provide and the more ‘routine’ we define it, the more the punters find reasons to attend, the earlier they come and the more disjointed their care. The result is people who are overmedicalised, overinvestigated and overtreated. Money is wasted, anxiety heightened, illness created. It achieves the exact opposite of what is intended. I’ll have to stop now because I’m welling up and looking at some bricks.

Anyhow, that’s why I support weekend working. So long as, of course, that it means we stop weekday working. Provide a two day week of medical care, same pay, five days off. Patients would quickly learn that medical care is actually a precious resource not to be abused, the epidemic of iatrogenesis would be averted, and we doctors would cheer up immensely.

Honk if you support this idea. And pass the vomit bucket if you’re sick of where we’re heading.

Dr Tony Copperfield is a GP in Essex. You can follow him on Twitter @DocCopperfield

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Readers' comments (32)

  • My opinions down to the tee.Dr Copperfield expresses most eloquently the thoughts of myself and my partners

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  • 'Improved access' does paradoxically lead to over medicalisation and a decreased standard of care. Wait a day or two, see the GP you saw last time and actually move forward rather than starting again from the beginning.

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  • On weekdays, the patients could go see their MPs!

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  • Really laughed at this
    Genius to hang the doh on the rope of its delusional imbecility

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  • Loud honk from me! Brilliant piece.
    I agree that weekends should remain for emergencies. 2 years ago, we introduced a Mon-Fri telephone triage based system with same day appointments in our inner city practice but we kept personal lists. Whilst we still don't have enough doctors to manage demand and we still work ridiculous hours, we are starting to see a reduction- yes REDUCTION- in our number of contacts per 1000 patients. Of course, this could be influenced by demographic changes and by the fact that we have a local area that has consistently invested in primary care/community services over the years but it's worth looking at as a way of containing demand. DH just published saying increased financial investment in general practice wouldn't make a difference but that is just rubbish as we know. Its about getting the right model for the area you are in and thinking about how everything fits together and impacts each part of the complex system that is health and social care.

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  • Honk here too. I needed cheering up as I have just spoken to my junior doctor daughter after another hellish shift. We did the back of an envelope calculation recently and see that she doesn't make the living wage on which the Corbynistas seems so keen. She is in the category which would lose the little free time she has and some pay if current offer comes home to roost.

    If all the support staff were to switch to working weekends only (most of course not working weekends at present) I assume they would take the five days they are currently restricted from spending due to work commitments and use the time to spend, spend, spend. A real boost to the economy too then.

    Go for it. If Dr Copperfield lacks JH's work address to send his proposals, let me know and I am sure I can find it somewhere.

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  • Vincenzo Pascale

    Here in angola where I'm working just now, we have a lot of patients, (a lot is an euphemism) that go in procession to the clinic (sometimes entire families simultaneously - father, mother, and five children) with symptoms of coughing (afebrile and asymptomatic for the rest) from 5 hours. Probably we'll go to implement with a ticket (a small ticket ). But we expect that the procession ends. We expect a reduction of 40% of the access to the clicnic. In this way peoples learn when access to medical examination (you know, every week from years we explain to our patients, in the waiting room, how to manage the first symptoms of cold etc - so patients have a very useful information), and they will access to the clinic only if they are REALLY concerned about the health, and not for a sightseeing.

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  • Disgraceful....working a 2 day weekend and having Mon to Fri off....oh please.....I need my Sunday off too....I'd def support a single day in my consulting room...
    9-12, then lunch, and a short 2-4pm clinic....that ought to keep me "current" and able to work to retirement age.

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  • Double honk! Thanks for the laugh

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  • Tony Copperfield is absolutely right even though lot of GP s will be very angry with this ides. This will reduce the impact of private providers on NHS , reduce the bureaucracy , make the patients value General Practice and enable them to get Gold standard care from qualified and experienced GPs than NHS111 and poorly provided emergency care centres and private providers . GPs can work on Weekends as Co-Operatives ,which we did wonderfully well before the new Contract and it does not mean All GPs working all weekends and it should improve GP remuneration as well

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From: Copperfield

Dr Tony Copperfield is a jobbing GP in Essex with more than a few chips on his shoulder