Don’t blame GPs

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I don’t know what some GP did to Dr John Cameron to make him so vitriolic about the profession (Letters, 1 August). It must have been bad.

He uses some extreme figures to make his argument, but it’s far more helpful to talk about what is normal.

If all of us Dr Findlays out here could earn £200 an hour for out-of-hours work, we would happily do a few eight-hour shifts a month and not bother about a 50-hour daytime week.

The fact is that doctors working full time in the salaried out-of-hours service in Grampian will earn about £80,000 a year – a good salary, but not the amount he implies. (Some odd anomalies like that did happen just as the new arrangements were bedding down.)

In 2004, we became able to opt out of the responsibility for providing out-of-hours care.

As I was careful to explain, before that time, most GPs had come to commission that care from out-of-hours providers such as co-operatives or deputising services, and few were actually still providing that care themselves.

The amount we give up in order to not be responsible for out-of-hours care is based on the government’s own estimate of what they paid us for out-of-hours work.

I, and thousands of others, worked one in three or four nights and weekends for the princely some of £4,000 a year.

Accident and emergency departments are flooded not because of poor quality out-of-hours services but because of the sheer convenience of a walk-in service, combined with a 24-hour consumer mentality.

GPs never pandered to that when they did out-of-hours work for their own practices.

(Dr) Robert W Liddell


Turriff, Aberdeenshire