This site is intended for health professionals only

At the heart of general practice since 1960

Why I absolutely think we should work weekends

  • Print
  • Comments (32)
  • Rate
  • Save

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

Rate this blog  (4.78 average user rating)

Click to rate

  • 1 star out of 5
  • 2 stars out of 5
  • 3 stars out of 5
  • 4 stars out of 5
  • 5 stars out of 5

0 out of 5 stars

Readers' comments (32)

  • Hear Hear!!!!

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • Honk....bleeeaaarrrrghh

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • Brilliant!

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • Harry Longman

    HONK! Double benefit, on weekdays patients could all just go to A&E and then the hospitals will get to suck in more money so the NHS will have an even bigger begging bowl.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • Absolutely brilliant!

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • Spot On!

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • Honk!!!

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • I think we should be sensible and start by demanding a four day week. It would almost immediately save 20% of the Nhs cost. The government doesn't seem to have grasped the fact that supermarkets open at weekends is so that people spend money they didn't really need to.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • Honk Honk = ouawaaah !
    It might even save the NHS

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • Irony?

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • Honk

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • Brilliant!

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • Only if you assume GP's have been put on the face of the earth to do GP work...

    Last time I checked, I'd been reassigned to preventing hospital admissions and checking boilers.

    no honk from me, I need that vomit bucket.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • Spot on

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • You are absolutely right, David Copperfield. Weekend working was fairly successful in the olden days because, generally, patients didn't want to be seen. It cost them money they didn't have, and they genuinely didn't want to disturb the doctor. It meant that the ones who were seen tended to be genuinely ill

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • Russell Thorpe

    Brilliant as always I didn't see that one coming

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • Great idea...perhaps I might suggest a single day during the week when GPs work exclusivity in the homes of the extremely elderly (anyone over 105) ..to prevent admission to hospital, administer immunisations, test for the need for statins and perform dementia screening with the aim to significantly reduce mortality in this age group. Think of the money the government would save ensuring these folk don't ever end up needing to go to hospital or get generally poorly. Perhaps we could then set up LES's in some regions on a Thursday exclusively to attend to the health concerns of the perfectly well, who are otherwise too busy down the gym on Friday to Wednesday's , so we can screen them for the most recent condition featured on hollyoaks/embarrassing bodies or in men's health magazine ...think of the money the government would save ensuring these healthy working gym attending folk had exclusive guaranteed access to a GP on a Thursday so they can be reassured they are indeed perfectly well.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • Stunned at the brilliant simplicity in which the crucial summary of what's wrong has been embedded in this blog - send it to DoH/JH/DC et al (with a massive old fashioned car hooter) Honk! Honk!

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • Could not agree more that extending access only increases doctor- dependence. We are making people more ill, not less.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • Haircuts are cheaper during the week, and the queues to call up call centres when I lose my internet passwords are less.
    Theme parks are empty also!

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

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

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • '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.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

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

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

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

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • 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.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • 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.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • 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.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • 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.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • Double honk! Thanks for the laugh

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • 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

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • Absolutely agree. Increasing supply only increases demand, with the only winners being the chronic '3 hour history sore throat/don't like my job' club who somehow manage to always get one of the scarce appointments. Those that are actually sick and don't shout loudly enough miss out. The more we increase supply, the more common sense and self care ability we remove from society.
    And anyway... Paracetamol is available from most shops 24/7.... Maybe people would consider forking out 25p of their hard earned benefits or money left over after the weekly fags and booze shop if it wasn't so easy to get it from us.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • completely agree there is too much medicine and 'normal' but sometimes unpleasant life events get medicalised to the detriment of the patient and longterm the doctor.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

Have your say

  • Print
  • Comments (32)
  • Rate
  • Save

From: Copperfield

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