Letter: Single-handers will feel it worse if half-days end

I was interested in the article regarding the proposed end to half-days (GP, 26 February). This has already happened in Lanarkshire. It was traditional that GP surgeries always had a half-day on Wednesdays, and there had been a rota of GPs who would, for a fee, cover the closed practices.

Patients knew this arrangement, and that there was GP cover for emergencies. Very few called the rota doctor, and everybody was happy with the arrangement.

However, it was decided by some administrator, that for patients not to have full access to full GP services every day was unreasonable, and that the half-day on a Wednesday denied patients their right of access, so it would have to go.

This was bitterly contested by single-handed GPs who would then have to lose their half-day as there was nobody other than them to be available for their practices.

Multi-doctor practices didn't mind, as they could have a day off, or even two days off, each per week, and use the other doctors at the practice to cover on a rota.

The 'powers that be' didn't listen, so now GPs in Lanark-shire have to be open every day with no half-day, unless in a multi-doctor practice where they can have as many half-days as they like.

It is the single-handed GPs, as usual, who suffer. Perhaps this is yet another piece of evidence that health boards are trying to 'persuade' GPs to group together. They don't listen to patients, who seem to prefer 'their' GP rather than a group where they have to take whichever GP is available, rather than have their 'own family GP'.

Does this mean I am a member of an endangered species?

Dr Colin Lees, single-handed GP, Airdrie, Lanarkshire

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