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GPs reject out-of-hours work due to ‘exhaustion’, finds BMA survey

A majority of GPs cite exhaustion as the main reason why they do not work out of hours, a survey by BMA Wales has shown.

In all, 64% of respondents cited this as one of their key barriers preventing them from taking on shifts.

Other top-ranking reasons included not wanting to (40.5%); pay rates not being attractive (38%); and poor reputation of the organisation (26%).

Absence of paid leave, such as annual maternity, was a concern for 12% of respondents, while 17% had other concerns including having to cope with low staffing levels and doctors being replaced with other health professionals. GPs further cited concerns with ‘exceeding indemnity allowance’.

The BMA survey also showed discontent with recent changes to taxation implemented by the HMRC, which nearly nine out of 10 respondents working out of hours (86%) said they were affected by.

As Pulse has previously reported, the IR35 changes had proved the ‘nail in the coffin’ for some GPs’ out-of-hours commitments.

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In response, the survey showed that many GPs want the Welsh BMA GP Committee to push for increased pay rates for working out of hours.

GPC Wales chair Dr Charlotte Jones said: ‘The pressures that GPs face day in, day out are leaving them exhausted. This exhaustion can ultimately lead to burn out and GPs leaving the profession early, further compounding the problem.

‘The system as a whole is under a sustained amount of intense pressure, brought about by an increase in workload and inadequate resources due to years of underinvestment. This is a significant problem facing in-hours services but is particularly acute for out-of-hours services, meaning out of hours is viewed as an unattractive place for GPs – who despite everything continue to provide high quality services for their patients – to work.’

She added: ‘True investment is needed in out-of-hours services to ensure patients receive a safely staffed service.’

It comes as a Pulse investigation earlier this month revealed that there was a 26% increase in the number of serious incidences reported by GP out-of-hours services to commissioners in England last year.

In response, GP leaders warned that they were no longer a ‘safe pace of work’ and that there is an ‘urgent crisis’ in the service.