GP leader hits back after Leeds City Council meeting says doctors should work more hours

The chair of the British Medical Association's GP Committee has hit back at suggestions doctors should "actually work more of a week than they do now".

Thursday, 24th October 2019, 7:00 am

Leeds based GP, Dr Richard Vautrey, spoke out to the Yorkshire Evening Post following a meeting of Leeds City Council’s health scrutiny committee in which there was a discussion on the Leeds Health and Care plan, how there was a nationwide shortage of GPs and, even with extending surgery opening hours, people were struggling to get appointments.

Last night he spoke out and admitted there was a "huge crisis" in general practice and "insufficient" numbers of doctors, but defended those that are not based in surgeries every day of the week.

At Tuesday's meeting, Coun Graham Latty (Con) had said: “We need more doctors, but don’t we need a lot of the doctors we’ve got to actually work more of a week than they do now.

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The chair of the British Medical Association's GPs committee has defended the hours doctors are perceived to work.

“There are an awful lot of doctors who work one day a week or two days a week.

“For a doctor who works one day a week, 52 weeks a year, there’s not a lot of keeping up to the job as far as I can see.

“I am not being discriminatory by a sex point of view, I just think that there ought to be, within a doctor’s contract, more of a commitment to being nearer to full time than a lot of the ones that we get now.”

However, Dr Vautrey said what were 'part-time' hours to a doctor, were equivalent to a full time job in other professions and that they had commitments throughout the rest of the week that takes them away from the surgery.

"There is a huge crisis in general practice, there are insufficient numbers across the country and we need to find ways to support them in terms of work pressure. Even those working what others judge to be part-time are doing well in excess of what would be full time in any other person's league. They are doing 12 hour days, early in the morning and well into the evening as well as doing services in the day.

"Many GPs not only work in their own practices but might work on out of hours services, or services outside of their practice. So while they are not available in their practice they might be working in A&E."

Doctor numbers

According to figures provided by NHS Digital, as of June this year there were 34,114 full time or equivalent GPs in England, which is 264 more than June 2018. However, when looking at fully qualified GPs and excluding registrars from the count, the figure was 28, 257 - 576 less than June 2018.

Comparative figures from June 2014 showed there were 36, 920 full time or equivalent doctors registered in England and that had been a 626 increase since 2013 and 5,899 increase since 2004.

While there was a decrease in GP numbers, Dr Vautrey said the health industry had to support those working part time or multiple roles as that was better than them not being there at all.

Flexible working

He added: "We have to work in as flexible a way as possible to retain GPs otherwise they will be lost to the service. That means enabling doctors who have other commitments to work in general practice whether that is family or other work commitments that they may have. They could have management or training roles, training other doctors, there are a whole range of other activities.

"We want to retain these so enabling them to work two or three days a week is much better than losing them altogether. Retaining that flexibility is the best way. I am sure there are many council workers who work in flexible ways and that the council would want to support those individuals. When their circumstances change they might increase their commitments back into GP roles."