Exclusive: Poll shows fifth of GPs work out-of-hours as Hunt petition tops 150,000 names

A fifth of GPs carry out at least part of their work in out-of-hours services, findings from a GPonline poll suggest.

Out-of-hours care: many GPs work nights and weekends (Photo: JH Lancy)
Out-of-hours care: many GPs work nights and weekends (Photo: JH Lancy)

The findings came as GPs and other NHS staff reacted furiously to health secretary Jeremy Hunt's threats to impose a seven-day contract on NHS consultants. Many NHS staff working over the weekend used the #ImatworkJeremy hashtag to make the point that the health service already operates seven days a week.

Meanwhile, an online petition calling on MPs to debate a vote of no confidence in health secretary Jeremy Hunt over his seven-day NHS proposals has secured more than 150,000 signatures within a matter of days. Parliament is required to consider a debate on any petition that gains over 100,000 signatures.

RCGP chairwoman Dr Maureen Baker hit out at Mr Hunt's threat to impose seven-day working on consultants, warning that she feared GPs would be next.

The GPonline poll found that of 477 GPs who took part, 20% work in out-of-hours NHS services.

GP workload

Many GPs also report having no choice but to carry out administrative work over weekends and during evenings because of soaring practice workload. Jubilee Street practice GP and MPIG campaigner Dr Naomi Beer said on Twitter:

Mr Hunt has repeatedly blamed the 2004 GP contract - which allowed GPs to opt out of 24-hour responsibility - for undermining GPs' relationship with patients and triggering a rise in A&E attendances.

A report by the National Audit Office last year said around 10% of GP practices retained 24-hour responsibility after the 2004 GP contract deal.

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