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Friday 22nd June 2018

Surgeries must rethink longer hours

23rd February 2008

Ministers are now, belatedly, trying to squeeze a few extra hours in opening times out of GPs following the renegotiation of a GP contract in 2004 which miscalculated to such an extent that it gave doctors a pay rise of a third for working fewer hours.

GP contractQ

The contract bore the hallmarks of the deal the architect of the NHS, Aneurin Bevan, offered consultants 60 years ago to end their opposition to the establishment of an NHS with lucrative pay deals, pensions and private practice opportunities.

Health secretary Alan Johnson took the step in early February of writing direct to GPs, bypassing British Medical Association negotiators, asking them to open for an extra three hours a week for only some extra money. The alternative is an imposed, harsher contract.

But with most GPs’ patients being the young, old and the sick who are not so much confined by “office hours?, this may seem an odd battleground.

Observers suggest that “although those extra hours may be clinically irrelevant, politically they are dynamite? and come amid growing perception that the extra money that has been spent on the NHS has in many cases been wasted.

Doctors are beginning to fear this fight with them is to clear the way for polyclinics but, that may already be on the cards: in London there is a blueprint for such a plan while in Birmingham there is a proposal to merge 76 GP surgeries into 24 larger operations.

Perhaps GPs had better think a bit harder about those opening hours.


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