GPs’ 999 role

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Further to Dr John Cameron’s opinion (Letters, 1 July) I was a GP in the east end of Glasgow for 31 years and I retired in 1991.

I have been concerned about the increasing tendency for 
patients to bypass their GP and seek their medical care at 
accident and emergency departments at their local hospital even during normal working hours.

At the time of my retirement one of our partners held an old-fashioned open surgery at 11:30am and again at 4:30pm every weekday for emergency problems.

On Saturday mornings all patients who came to the health centre were seen. All children brought up to the health centre at any time were seen by a GP or a nurse.

This reduced friction and problems at the reception desk and reduced home visits.

Of course this system was abused by some patients but an experienced GP can deal with this situation. Patients who were not needing immediate attention were told to make an appointment in the usual way.

We did cover all the out-of-hours calls for our patients but I think some form of centralised out-of-hours system was probably inevitable.

I do think, however, that GPs should be available on Saturday mornings, as with the present system GP cover is not available for nearly a third of the week.

There will always be a need for accident and emergency departments or walk-in clinics in our large cities for patients unable to access a GP but it will be at sad day when GPs opt out of all emergency care for their patients as they will become unskilled in acute emergency medicine.

Hugh M Mackenzie

Bonnethill Road

Pitlochry