GPs no better off

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I do not know whether Dr John Cameron (Letters, 31 July) was a GP before becoming a professional Scotsman letter writer. If so, he seems to have lost touch with professional issues or has selective memory loss.

Back in 2004 when the new GP contract started, my own was one of the few practices in the country still providing out-of-hours care for our own patients.

Unfortunately, that system had become unsustainable due to the advent of the 24-hour “Tesco” culture and an unmanageable rise in public expectations and demand.

By then the vast majority of out-of-hours care was being delivered by out-of-hours co-operatives or deputising services, something very similar to what is in place now. There will never be a return to the old practice-based system, relying as it did on sensible public use of the doctor on call for emergencies.

In any case, who does Dr Cameron think is doing the out-of-hours work now? The only doctors legally qualified to do so are GPs, some of whom work only out of hours, others being part-time during the day and part-time out of hours.

Some brave souls work full-time by day as well as working out-of-hours shifts, something I did for a short time before realising how impossible that was.

Those who, like Dr Cameron, are offended by the pay rise given to GPs in 2004 (how many pay increases continue to offend after a decade?) can now relax. We have had no pay rise at all since then, so are no better off, and are perhaps worse off, than if we had had conventional annually negotiated rises over that period.

(Dr) Robert W Liddell