Seven-day GP scheme leaves out-of-hours struggling

The official evaluation of the seven-day GP access pilots revealed that they were ‘competing’ with out-of-hours providers for GPs, leading to incentives that were ‘unsustainable’ in the longer term.

John Harrison, of the Northern Doctors Urgent Care (NDUC) group claimed that this has caused ‘mayhem’ for out-of-hours providers. Harrison told GP publication Pulse that out-of-hours organisations had always had to carefully manage local GP workforce as only a limited number want to work out of core hours, but they could not compete with Challenge Fund schemes offering ‘£100 an hour plus’ for shifts.

Speaking at the Urgent Health UK annual conference, he said: “In Teeside, the local doctors won a Prime Minister’s Challenge Fund bid. They couldn’t get enough [GPs] for themselves to cover their rotas, so what do they do? They put it out at double the out-of-hours rate, £100 an hour plus, where the rest of us are dealing with about £47 to £50 an hour. We lost a quarter of our workforce in a matter of a couple of weeks.

“All of us manage our local workforce, there’s not a lot of GPs who want to work in out of hours, then a scheme like this comes barrelling in and causes absolute mayhem.”

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