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GPs given £100 an hour to provide weekend access

GPs involved in a seven day access pilot scheme are being paid £100 an hour to see patients in the evenings and at weekends.

Dr Gurdip Hear, a senior GP partner at the Crosby House Surgery in Slough, told Pulse that the hourly rate of £100 had been agreed between Slough CCG and local GPs as a ‘reasonable ballpark figure’ for the costs of providing GP services up until 8pm, seven days a week.

Funding for the extended hours scheme comes from the Prime Minister’s Challenge Fund, a £50m pot that is being used to pay for pilots of seven-day GP access in 20 areas across England. Practices participating in these pilots have been awarded money to make their services more accessible, which in most cases involves providing GP services from 8am to 8pm, seven days a week.

Slough’s pilot scheme, ‘Steps to the Future’, was awarded £2,950,000 to provide both pre-booked appointments and drop-in services from 8am to 8pm every day of the week, as well as a text-messaging service and sessions in local schools led by GPs or practice nurses. The 16 practices involved in the pilot scheme have committed to providing extra 48,000 appointments per year via four clusters in different parts of Slough.

One practice, the Upton Medical Partnership, declined to take part in the pilot citing overwork during core hours as a reason, but the pilot is fully manned during all extended hour shifts.

Dr Hear said: ‘I’m doing 12 hours this weekend, and my wife’s not happy - but as a result I’ve booked myself a holiday to Spain in half term, because I need to spend some time with the kids and this is one way of forcing myself to go.’

But GP leaders have warned that the Government’s significant initial investment in extended hours may be at the expense of existing out-of-hours services.

Dr John Rawlinson, chair of Berkshire LMC, told Pulse that it was ‘difficult to see the difference’ between extended hours and ‘a better-run out of hours service’. 

He added: ‘If a doctor is working Monday to Friday, and then there’s a request for them to work Saturday and Sunday - shifts that are already covered by out of hours - you have to remember that seven-day working comes with millions of pounds of investment. Which shift would you choose?’

If re-elected, Prime Minister David Cameron has vowed to roll out seven day working across the whole of England, pledging £400m per year over five years in ‘set-up costs’.

GPs have reacted angrily, with over 100 signing an open letter to Mr Cameron demanding that the PM ‘do the maths’. The letter explains that the extended hours pilots have failed to deliver reduced A&E attendances, and in many areas have yet to begin.

Signatories to the Resiliant GP group’s letter said: ‘You have pledged an extra £100m for this increase in hours. This equates to 1.1% increase in primary care funding for a 60% increase in workload. Do the maths, as your advisors obviously can’t. Forget the rhetoric and the arguments about doctor salaries, this fairy tale is simply not deliverable.’

Readers' comments (43)

  • Yap, that's really good idea. Because we are already cash strapped in NHS, let's pay GP to work unsociable hours at x2.5 the going rate (I earn £40/hr as a full time partner on average) to make the funding even worse.

    It's got nothing to do with election next year has it Mr Cameron?

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  • OOH will not decrease the amt they charge to the CCG because of this! So they will have to pay twice. As local GP`s would rather get paid £100 than £50-60 by OOH the local OOH will have to find staff from elsewhere which will be less than ideal as local health Knowledge/pathways etc is lost.
    Also it will raise expectations among patients and when the weekend scheme is stopped patients will be continuing to seek appoitments for routine issues on weekends and the OOH access wil become worse.
    So in few years we will be in worse off position than now

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  • the agenda is clear
    try and get us to take on a service with initial resonable funding.
    Then when patients are dependant on said service (and out of hours service has been cut) - the pay will suddenly drop - and we will be the 'GP fat cats who won't work' if we then try to go back to a 5 days week

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  • 50 quid an hour after tax to work unsociable hours on top of what I already do in the other 9 sessions to take on the risk of seeing other GPs' patients whom I do not know?
    Count me out, I'm definitely not doing it!

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  • I imagine that out of this sum, money to pay staff costs etc, will be needed.
    Thing is.....it is "blood money"....ie I would not do it for any sum. General Practice is an appalling speciality and self-prostituting for extra cash-no thanks.

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  • John Glasspool

    My solicitor (a partner in her firm) charges about £300 an hour and that is NOT seeing me at the weekend or 8pm.

    £100- peanuts. Mind you there is no sum of money that is too small for which a group of GPs somewhere will prostitute themselves.

    Current DOH joke: How do you kill 50 GPs at once?

    A. Throw 50p in front of a moving truck.

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  • If all 48000 appointements are used the that 61 pounds a consultation. Is that reasonable?
    I do not think so. 2.95million could fully fund 2 medium size in hours practices that would provide a lot more than a consultation. I wonder how many out of core consultations have FU or test etc in hours soon after.

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  • 2009 list size 2900; Payment annual through Exeter: 259000
    2013 list size 3880; Payment annual through Exeter: 288000

    Over 4 years the Practice has had an increase of 29000 for almost a 1000 patients and now when I try to close my list NHSE has not taken a decision vide its own policy that says it has 21 days to do so. instead I am warned of consequences if I do not withdraw my application. Eight weeks gone and no reponse. And what does Kent LMC do? Chant the NHSE mantra advising me to withdraw.
    Wake up Mr Cameron because the few who take that bait are going to curse you the moment you withdraw the carrot and ordinary GPs don't have the time to work more than 7 days - A reminder - we do work sat and sundays to keep up with the load if you were not aware!

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  • Vinci Ho

    (1) considering the recent 'surprisingly' good reviews of out of hours service by CQC,what is the bloody difference between this and investing this £100 per hour on top of current OOH delivery with at least better access to patients' record?
    (2) the bloody difference is these politicians want to misguide and miseducate the public (a) it is your own beloved GP who is available 8-8 / 7Ds (b) this is to save patients because there is no GP for you to see at the moment after half six weekday and the weekend.
    (3) Is this the modern version of Ignorance of the five Giant Evils I was talking about?

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  • John Glasspool: great joke - true reflection of the situation and explains why we keep sinking into this quagmire.

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