English GP leaders will debate whether core hours should be cut to 9-5 at their annual conference later this month.
A motion submitted to conference by Gateshead and Tyneside LMC ‘requests that any new contract reduce core hours to 0900-1700hrs’, with practices starting or finishing later on some days to meet local need.
It further states that the current core hours of 8:00am to 6:30pm are discriminatory against GPs who wish to have families, which due to a still patriarchal society mostly affects females.
A similar motion narrowly failed at the UK wide LMCs conference in March this year, but it is more likely to succeed in England.
Many of the arguments against the UK motion stated that this wasn’t an issue that should have been debated on a UK-wide basis, rather than against the substance.
The new contract in England will be introduced in April 2024, following negotiation between the BMA GP Committee and NHS England and were the motion to pass, the GPC would be mandated to argue for core hours being reduced.
At the UK conference, Pulse columnist Dr Shaba Nabi, who is a GP in Bristol and chair of the English LMCs conference, said: ‘Our hours are at odds with family life.
‘The outrage and the reactions to this motion just goes to show how gaslit we are as a profession, that we have internalised the belief that we are worthless, of no value and we should be working 12 and a half hours more than everyone else.
‘This motion does not deny access to urgent care – the excellent out-of-hours service has and always will be there to provide care for GP out of hours – and neither does this motion deny access to routine care in the evenings or the weekends because this needs to be commissioned separately from the core contract for GPs who wish to deliver this.
‘This motion will not deny patient access to GP care, but what it will do is keep patients safer.’
A separate motion at the conference calls on the GPC to negotiate the end of the enhanced access element of the Network DES, which requires primary care networks to open from 9-5 on Saturdays and on weekday evenings.
Motion in full
GATESHEAD AND SOUTH TYNESIDE: That conference views core hours as a relic of history and:
(i) notes that they total 52.5 hours per week, starting earlier and finishing later than most other jobs, including childcare
(ii) believes that they indirectly discriminate against GPs who wish to have families
(iii) is concerned that due to the still-patriarchal nature of English society, this is discrimination that mostly affects female GPs
(iv) requests that any new contract reduce core hours to 0900-1700hrs, but with practices to start earlier/finish later on some days, as per extended hours, in order to meet local need and practice ability to staff this.