One night GP for 535,000 patients

Print Friendly

Out-of-hours GPs are being left to care on their own for up to half a million patients, it has been reported.

Cost-cutting NHS chiefs are routinely assigning just one family doctor to districts that stretch over hundreds of square miles, Mail Online said.

A third of primary care trusts, which manage GP services, have slashed night and weekend spending over the past 12 months, it added.

The Mail said the standard of out-of-hours care had been under scrutiny since 2004 when a new contract enabled GPs to opt out of evening and weekend duties. Now only one in four works out of hours.

Many trusts have since outsourced the cover to private firms who hire locum – or temporary – doctors to fill the shifts, it added.

Using the Freedom of Information Act, the Mail asked every PCT in England a series of questions about out-of-hours cover.

Of the 90 that responded, 35 had slashed their out-of-hours budgets in the past year. The average cut was 10%. And 11 trusts employed only one doctor at night to cover between 180,000 and 535,000 patients.

The Mail said that in Cornwall, some nights have seen one GP looking after 535,000 patients. In Mid Essex just one doctor is in charge of 370,000 between 7pm and 8am. And after axing one of its two doctors, North East Essex has the same cover for the 325,000 patients on its books.

A Department of Health spokeswoman said: “A survey of patients in June this year found that almost two thirds said the time it took to get care from their GP service outside working hours was ‘about right’. Two thirds of patients also described their experience of out of hours GP services as ‘good’, while confidence and trust in the doctor the patient saw was generally high. There is a clear legal requirement on the local NHS to make sure the right, high quality out of hours services are in place, as well as clear quality requirements of those services. If they are not met, the local NHS should take action to improve the local service.”

A spokesman from Serco, the private firm which runs out-of-hours cover in Cornwall, told the Mail there were a “limited” number of occasions in the past year when just one GP was on call. He added that Serco now ensured there were at least two GPs on call at night to cover all of the county’s 1,316 square miles, and that in addition at least five nurses and paramedics are on duty in cars.

The following two tabs change content below.
Hello ... I am the Creative Director and Website Editor for Silversurfers and manage all the social media too. I hope you find the features and articles we have shared with you of interest and relevance. Please feel free to comment below and share your thoughts with us ... I hope you enjoy Silversurfers and all that we offer ...

Latest posts by Silversurfers Editor (see all)

Not a member?

Join the silversurfers community today! It's free, easy to do, and is packed full of features and amazing offers!

Join the community!
Click here if you have forgotten your password

Community Terms & Conditions

Content standards

These content standards apply to any and all material which you contribute to our site (contributions), and to any interactive services associated with it.

You must comply with the spirit of the following standards as well as the letter. The standards apply to each part of any contribution as well as to its whole.

Contributions must:

be accurate (where they state facts); be genuinely held (where they state opinions); and comply with applicable law in the UK and in any country from which they are posted.

Contributions must not:

contain any material which is defamatory of any person; or contain any material which is obscene, offensive, hateful or inflammatory; or promote sexually explicit material; or promote violence; promote discrimination based on race, sex, religion, nationality, disability, sexual orientation or age; or infringe any copyright, database right or trade mark of any other person; or be likely to deceive any person; or be made in breach of any legal duty owed to a third party, such as a contractual duty or a duty of confidence; or promote any illegal activity; or be threatening, abuse or invade another’s privacy, or cause annoyance, inconvenience or needless anxiety; or be likely to harass, upset, embarrass, alarm or annoy any other person; or be used to impersonate any person, or to misrepresent your identity or affiliation with any person; or give the impression that they emanate from us, if this is not the case; or advocate, promote or assist any unlawful act such as (by way of example only) copyright infringement or computer misuse.

Nurturing a safe environment

Our Silversurfers community is designed to foster friendships, based on trust, honesty, integrity and loyalty and is underpinned by these values.

We don't tolerate swearing, and reserve the right to remove any posts which we feel may offend others... let's keep it friendly!

More Health Features

MASTA – Over 170 Travel Health Clinics across the UK picture_with_pot
MASTA has over 30 years specialist travel health experience with more than 170 travel health...
Are you at risk of Pneumonia? shutterstock_240913606- lungs 900 x 550
Are you at risk of Pneumonia? We all are. Pneumonia can strike anyone, at any age, at any time...
What can you do about cystitis after the menopause? Closeup of pencil eraser and black cystitis text. Cystitis. Pencil with eraser.
You may be surprised to be suffering repeated episodes of cystitis when you thought it was a young...
Grab Your Fenetic Sprint for Active Aging Week Grab Your Fenetic Sprint for Active Aging Week
Come along for the ride, get involved in Active Aging Week this September by cycling to your...
Keep your blood pressure in check for Know Your Numbers Week doctor checking blood pressure with stethoscope and sphygmomanom
It’s Know Your Numbers Week; a campaign by Blood Pressure UK that encourages people to help...
Incontinence - It’s No Laughing Matter Lifestyle image
The sudden desperate urge to go to the toilet when away from home is something many people face...
10 tips for maintaining your dental health in the later stages of your life toothbrush-571741_960_720
Many older people have worries about their dental health and preserving their smile - indeed, many...
A Self Help Guide To Managing Menopausal Symptoms MENOPAUSE
Menopause is the time of life when a woman’s period of fertility comes to an end...
Celebrate No Smoking Day on the 9th of March No smoking signs
If you're trying to give up smoking, you're supporting a friend or family member who wants to quit...
Could a stairlift prevent you from having to move house? stairlifts-Washington_OakTree
If taking the stairs is beginning to get a little strenuous, it might not be too long until you...
Get holiday health savvy this summer Travel concept. Sunbed sunglass  map beach shoes sunscreen passport air tickets beach ball hat and old red suitcase for travel on the beach.
Whether you’re heading on that holiday of a lifetime or taking the grandkids on an adventure...
Buying an Adjustable Bed electric-adjustable-beds-HazelBed_OakTree
The decision to buy an adjustable bed is usually an easy one to make, and most people know when...