One night GP for 535,000 patients
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.
Latest posts by Silversurfer's Editor (see all)
- Is the constant quest for equality eroding the archetypal gender differences? - July 18, 2017
- Fit for the Beach - July 17, 2017
- Heart Valve Disease Treatment: Minimally Invasive Surgery - July 16, 2017
- Is smartphone dependence a problem or just the way of the future? - July 15, 2017
- Win ONE of FIVE pairs of tickets to Chatsworth House and Garden - July 15, 2017
Leave a Comment!
Community Terms & Conditions
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.
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!