How many times have we heard from the Conservative Government the call to General Practice to provide a seven day 8am til 8pm service. But is it possible? I for one do not want to wait 6 hours to see a doctor is an A&E but could my GP have helped me. On a recent occasion for me the answer would have been no, apart from referring me to see a colectoral surgeon urgently.
Yes, if there is a demand for a seven day service get it provided and provided quickly. It’s not a question of looking for premises. The NHS already pays GPs for surgery premises 365 days a year. But it’s the GP manpower that arguably is lacking. Why? In my view there are plenty of GPs. The problem is they are working part time. Few work full time. Whilst there may well be legitimate reasons for working less than 5 days a week there will be even louder and stronger arguments not to work over 7 days.
But it is not valid to work a four day week just because you want to. It is not valid to work one or two days a week so that a GP can lead a CCG. Family reasons are often cited as a reason to go part time and in these days of equality it would be difficult to argue against it. But in my view all part time working should be approved by NHS England. Admission to the Performers List should be for an agreed time commitment. I know too many GPs who have just taken it upon themselves to work a four day week without any real solid reason. The consequences of part time working has been the use of expensive locums.
All in all someone somewhere needs to take control again – stop unreasonable and unexplained part time working and stop the employment of locums, unless there are exceptional reasons, such as sickness or maternity leave absence or a singlehanded doctor needing a break.