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Complaints about badly funded GP services “ignored”

2 July 2010

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Doctors’ complaints about underfunded out-of-hours services are falling on deaf ears, the BMA’s annual conference has been told.

Some GPs have been refusing to work for practices that compromise patients’ health by cutting costs at evenings and weekends, as well as relying on doctors from other countries.

Derbyshire-based Dr Peter Holden explained to the annual representative meeting in Brighton how some trusts “penny pinched”, leaving services with not enough skilled staff and inadequate resources, as he proposed a motion on the issue.

When some local GPs took charge of shifts, he continued, patients were found to have been neglected, with some health problems left undiagnosed.

Dr Holden, who works outside of normal hours, added: “UK doctors come on shift to find unacceptable backlogs of work; backlogs caused by slow working arising from language difficulties; backlogs caused by the fact that GPs from many European countries do not see psychiatric, paediatric or gynaecological problems; backlogs caused by inappropriate case-management through ignorance of NHS systems leading to, for example, wasteful, inappropriate hospital admissions.”

A Department of Health spokeswoman said: “There is no doubt that out-of-hours care needs urgent reform. GPs are best placed to ensure patients get the care they need, when they need it. That is why it is vital that GPs have responsibility for commissioning of OOH services.

“We will empower GPs in this way to ensure that patients receive better services.”

Copyright © Press Association 2010

BMA annual representative meeting