Tuesday, 28 May 2013

GPs reject call to take over out-of-hours care

GPs reject call to take over out-of-hours care: Doctors at BMA conference vote almost unanimously against proposal to place them back on call at evenings and weekends
GPs yesterday overwhelmingly reiterated their opposition to taking back responsibility for providing out-of-hours care, with some predicting that many older family doctors would quit if that was imposed on them.

About 400 delegates representing Britain's 40,000 GPs almost unanimously rejected a call at a British Medical Association conference for family doctors in England to once again become responsible for looking after ill patients overnight and at weekends, as they were until 2004.
The vote, at the annual conference of the BMA's local medical committees (GP branches), came after the health secretary, Jeremy Hunt, was reported to want GPs to go back to the earlier arrangement.
Dr Richard Vautrey, deputy chairman of the doctors' union's GP committee, said: "There was a very strong view that this would be the last straw for large numbers of GPs, if they were forced to become the provider of last resort and be on call overnight and at weekends, on top of their normal workload.
"The conference was at one in opposing any change that GPs would be taking back out-of-hours care. The BMA's view remains that GPs who have made the choice not to have personal responsibility for it should not have to do it."
An impassioned debate heard GPs argue that most family doctors over 50 would quit the profession if they had to resume provision of out-of-hours care. One remarked, "Over my dead body."
Advance reports earlier this week of a major speech Hunt was due to give to the King's Fund health thinktank on Thursday gave many GPs the impression that he wanted to again make them responsible as a way of tackling the often inadequate state of out-of-hours care, which since 2004 has been provided by a mixture of private companies, GP co-operatives, urgent care centres and walk-in centres.
Sources close to Hunt say prior media coverage has wrongly portrayed his views. On Thursday morning he said: "Ultimately, we want GPs to be responsible for out-of-hours care." But when he delivered his speech that afternoon, he called the 2004 change an "historic mistake" but, in an attempt to assuage mounting anger among GPs, made clear that "No one is suggesting that GPs should go back to being personally on call during the evenings or weekends. They work hard, they have families and they need a life too."
Hunt says he simply wants local GPs to be responsible for ensuring that the provider of out-of-hours care in their area will offer a high-quality service – a job already done by the new GP-led clinical commisisoning groups.
More positively for Hunt, LMC representatives rejected by 60 to 40 a motion expressing no confidence in him after GPs, including the influential chair of the BMA's GP committee, Dr Laurence Buckman, warned them that such a move would be "attacking the person, not the policies" and would damage the union.
The motion criticised Hunt for "misrepresentation of GPs to the public and press". In another vote, delegates rejected plans for GP surgeries to open seven days a week as part of plans being pursued by Sir Bruce Keogh, the NHS's medical director, for the NHS to provide key services in hospitals and at least some GP surgeries every day of the week, in a bid to improve care and reduce avoidable deaths. The Guardian

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