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Junior doctors’ loss is GPs’ gain



Apparently I have something in common with Jeremy Hunt: neither of us do surgeries on Saturday. I used to, as a new GP partner, but we eventually stopped the clinic when it became clear that the counting-the-multiple-DNAs-of-hungover-students-who’ve-decided-they-couldn’t-get-out-of-bed-for-their-pill-repeat-interspersed-with-seeing-the-retired-worried-well-who-could-just-as-easily-wait-til-Monday-and-besides-they’ll-only-need-to-come-back-for-their-blood-tests-anyway game wasn’t worth the paltry-addition-to-dwindling-practice-funds candle. This left me free to spend Saturday morning huddling like an emperor penguin by the side of a cold rainy field, texting. Or ‘enjoying quality time with my family’, as it’s apparently called.

Saturday can’t be simultaneously a normal work day and the only day people can see their GPs

Why am I telling you this? Well, you might have noticed the big row in the NHS right now about Saturday working. You see, junior doctors have had the audacity to suggest that Saturdays are somehow different to normal working days, and should be remunerated accordingly. The Government argues that this old-fashioned idea is ’out of line with the wider economy’. This was news to me, but I guess I’m just as out of touch as the juniors. It turns out they’ve abolished weekends, and I was too busy to notice.

We’d better start getting the word out fast, because this has far-reaching implications. For starters, some idiot’s gone and arranged the FA Cup final on a Saturday! I know – a Saturday. Everyone will be at work! The same antiquated mug must be responsible for scheduling Glastonbury at the weekend. Caterers, church halls and DJs will have to rethink their pricing structures, seeing as no-one will be turning up to weddings on Saturdays any more (except, presumably, those lazy junior doctors, who we’re told only work traditional office hours). Transport for London will have to redefine their peak times to accommodate the hordes of Saturday morning commuters. And may God have mercy on the soul of whoever has to tell the teachers.

However, there’s one good thing to come out of this: we GPs are constantly told that we have to open our surgeries on Saturdays for people who ’didn’t want to take a day off work’. In the olden days, when Saturdays were special, that argument might have held water, but in this Brave New Weekend-less World it clearly no longer applies. The Government can’t have it both ways: Saturday can’t be simultaneously a normal work day and the only day people can see their GPs. So the juniors’ loss is our gain, comrades! Everyone will be at work except us. Well, us and Jeremy Hunt, obviously. 

Dr Pete Deveson is a GP in Surrey. You can follow him on Twitter @PeteDeveson