Scottish GPs undecided about return of out-of-hours responsibility

Representatives at the Scottish conference of LMCs could not reach an agreement about whether out-of-hours care should be the responsibility of GPs.

A motion called for the conference in Clydebank on Thursday to reject Conservative Party policy that responsibility for out-of-hours patient care should be handed back to GPs.

The motion, which was raised by Dr Arun Rai a member of Greater Glasgow and Clyde LMC, also suggested if out-of-hours care was the responsibility of GPs it would not be safe for patients or GPs.  

But the conference was split over whether it should be carried, and a call was made for next business.

Dr Rai said: ‘GPs have never been as busy as we are now. We are taking more off-loaded work from secondary care, we are doing extended hours, and we are excellent in chronic disease management.

Dr Rai added that a tired and exhausted GP cannot provide high quality care to meet patient's expectations.

Dr Robert Flowerdew, a member of Lanarkshire LMC, said if responsibility for out-of-hours care was handed back to GPs he would no longer be able to work in his practice.

He said: 'I know that since we gave up out-of-hours care that the care given to our patients on a day to day basis has greatly improved because we are not exhausted, and don't hate each other for being off sick.'

But Dr Sebastian Planz, a member of Dumfries and Galloway LMC, said the idea needed ‘careful consideration' because there are arguments for and against. But added the motion as it stood sent out an entirely wrong message to the patients and the public.

The BMA is opposed to a return of out-of-hours responsibility to GPs. Should the Conservatives win the next election, this issue is likely to dominate possible new contract negotiations.

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