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Dr Mary Church: ‘Ministers want us to out-of-hours back so they don’t get the blame for it’

GPs are absolutely adamant about this. There was extremely strong feeling about not taking out-of-hours back at LMC conference and when I´ve been canvassing opinion locally I get letters back saying “NEVER” in red!

People have short-term memories. When we had responsibility for out-of-hours care it was getting impossible to recruit GPs because of the workload. And out-of-hours is not the same now as it was then. When we had the GP co-ops it was effectively an emergency service. Now patients expect the same level of service as they get during the day. The mindset has changed and we’d be taking responsibility for providing that.

I think the Government want us to take this back so they don’t get the blame for it. And they think it will cost them less as GPs are so cost-effective. They think effectively that we’ll pay for it. I´m sure economics play a part.

All this against a constant background of negative press which is affecting GPs’ plummeting morale. Taking out-of-hours back would adversely affect recruitment. The workload for GPs now in the daytime is so great we just can´t do what we do in the daytime and at night as well.”

We don’t want to go back on this. My father was a GP and I remember him going out in the night in the 50s and 60s and thinking I don’t want to do that.

England needs a system a bit more like the Scottish one which is working well now. But Scotland has had a lot of extra funding.

Dr Mary Church is a GP in Glasgow