GPs working longer hours ‘is wrong’ says British Medical Association union rep for Redbridge

A GP checking a patient's blood pressure. Photo: Anthony Devlin/PA Wire/PA Images

A GP checking a patient's blood pressure. Photo: Anthony Devlin/PA Wire/PA Images - Credit: PA Wire/PA Images

A doctors’ union representative has said the government is “totally wrong” for trying to force GPs to keep their surgeries open for longer.

Dr David Shubhaker, British Medical Association (BMA) representative for Barking, Havering, Redbridge and Waltham Forest called for the government to stop blaming GPs as a factor in the NHS crisis.

The government has said people go to under-pressure A&E departments because not enough out of hours appointments are available and it wants more surgeries to open between 8am and 8pm seven days a week.

“The prime minister is totally wrong,” said Dr Shubhaker.

“GPs are working more than what they should do and the number of GPs at present cannot do any more.”

A Department of Health (DoH) spokeswoman said: “The DoH is pledging an extra £2.4 billion of funding, 5000 more doctors in general practice and 1500 more pharmacists in surgeries by 2020.”

Dr Shubhaker continued: “How are they going to do that? It takes five to eight years to train a GP. More are leaving practices because of the work involved.”

Surgeries are currently expected to open between the core hours of 8am and 6.30pm Monday to Friday.

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But in October 2015, a report by the National Audit Office (NAO), showed 46 per cent of practices closed at some point during the core hours.

A clinical commissioning group (CCG) spokeswoman said individual practices in Redbridge or Havering do not offer an extended 8am to 8pm service on the weekends but it is delivered through three hubs.

But the hubs are not open all the time and are dependent upon need.

“They [doctors] cannot provide the service that management and the government are expecting,” continued Dr Shubhaker.

“It is impossible. GPs just want to do locum sessions because that won’t have the responsibility of achieving the targets and they don’t have to do extended hours.

“It’s [longer opening hours] not going to be possible because they’re [doctors] already doing their hours and seeing 60 patients per day.

“Mistakes happen if you start doing work like that – giving five to 10 minutes for appointments.”

The doctor suggested that it would be better for GPs to be based in A&E departments.

“Everybody goes to A&E, if you want to stop patients going to A&E there should one there seeing them and referring them back to their own doctors.”