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GPs asked to volunteer in hospitals during strike – but not a single one responds

Exclusive A CCG’s attempts to get GPs to volunteer at the local hospital to cover for absences during today’s junior doctor strike failed, with not a single GP taking up the offer. 

NHS North Somerset CCG sent a message to member practices yesterday afternoon, with a plea to step in to cover the medical assessment unit at Weston General Hospital in Weston-super-Mare.

The request did not detail how much money GPs would be given – if any – for working on the day of the strike. However, discussions on potential funding did not take place as no GPs took up the offer.

NHS England today claimed that 1,279 inpatient and 2,175 day case elective procedures had to be cancelled, adding that 39% of the junior doctor workforce was working today.

In preparation for any potential disruption, NHS North Somerset CCG approached the Weston General Hospital offering to request GPs volunteer at the hospital, with hospital chiefs saying that they may need cover in the medical assessment unit. 

A CCG spokesperson said: ’It was [NHS] North Somerset [CCG] that sent out the email but as far as I am aware there was no take up.’

A spokesperson for the hospital confirmed there was no take up of the offer.

They added: ’We responded to an offer from North Somerset CCG who as part of our system partnership working, asked us if we wanted GPs in the hospital to support clinical care during the junior doctor industrial action.

’All our clinical areas were already fully covered by our own cConsultant teams so instead we suggested that any GPs who did want to do this could work in the medical assessment unit as we’re always keen to work in partnership with primary care and welcome the opportunity for GPs to see how the hospital works.’

Peter Harrison, a local practice manager, said that the message had arrived late yesterday afternoon and not offered any compensation or answers about indemnity cover for potential volunteering doctors.

He said: ’It was something they sent round to all of us. It is our local district general hospital. I guess we don’t mind anybody asking, it was just the lateness that kind of surprised us… Nobody has got back to me answering any of those questions so none of my doctors would have been able to do anything about it anyway.’

But he added that he was not opposed to the idea of GPs doing medical assessments during the strike.

Pulse revealed yesterday that Birmingham LMC had advised GP practices to cancel routine work to ensure they are able to cope with an increase in unscheduled work during the three planned junior doctor strikes.