Monday 19 May 2014

Seven day GP opening

As part of the national process to be elected as RCGP Council representative, I was invited to answer two questions. The first, from Bristol GP +Terry Kemple, was:
Should the RCGP “Put Patients First” by encouraging its members to provide a seven-days–a-week service of face-to-face appointments with a GP for non-urgent problems?  In summary, should the RCGP promote Saturday and Sunday opening of GP surgeries?
 This was my answer:
On the face of it, seven-day-a-week opening could benefit general practice by enabling us to make maximal use of our premises while improving access for patients.

Firstly, however, we need to be certain that such a service is used by those with medical needs for whom attending during the working day is difficult. The partly-booked Saturday morning surgery attended by those not in regular employment will be familiar to many members. We also need to take care that such a service does not result in the diversion of resources from those with greatest needs.

The next sticking point will be the identification of staff willing to work at the weekend, mindful of the potential impact on their families. It is becoming harder to recruit GPs in hours, let alone at the weekend.

Having said all this, the Department of Health currently seems determined to introduce seven day working. After making the risks clear, College should therefore work with the Department of Health and other stakeholders to minimise the harms to colleagues and vulnerable patients.

Members can  vote at by noon on Friday 30 May 2014. My original election statement can be found here.

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