‘An awful lot of doctors only work one or two days a week’, claims Leeds councillor

A Leeds city councillor has accused “an awful lot” of doctors of only working one or two days a week, before calling for stricter contracts to encourage GPs to work closer to full time hours.

Wednesday, 23rd October 2019, 5:00 pm

But a senior NHS professional claimed this was not a regular occurrence, adding that, as GP surgeries are private businesses, there was not much authorities could do to increase the number of days doctors worked.

The comments came in a meeting of Leeds City Council’s health scrutiny committee during a discussion on the Leeds Health and Care plan, which aims to reduce health inequalities in the city.

A point was made by Coun Paul Truswell (Lab) regarding a nationwide shortage of GPs. He added even with extending surgery opening hours, people were still struggling to get an appointment.

A councillor called for doctors to work "closer to full time hours".

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Coun Graham Latty (Con) then added: “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.

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

“Most people function [better] when they’re at something a lot of the time – they get more exposure to patients, they’re kept up to date and they remain on top of the job.

“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.”

The NHS Leeds CCG’s Sue Robins responded: “I’m not aware in Leeds that we have a significantly worse recruitment situation to elsewhere.

“We need to talk about primary care teams as opposed to just GPs.

“I don’t know any GPs that work one day a week. Each GP practice is a private business – nobody holds a contract with them, they are private practitioners running their own business. As in all other areas of life, some people can choose to work part time, because they have carers’ duties or families, or other things to do.

“Some of the younger GPs just want to have a portfolio career, they know it will be a long hard 40 years for them, and many of them want to branch out or become specialists in other areas.

“We have to work with what we have got. One day a week of a GP is better than none. We have to do what we can to retain and help and flexible working is one way to retain GPs in the city.”

The Leeds health and care plan is a working document which sets out plans to improve health outcomes for some of the city’s poorest citizens by 2024.

A draft version of the document read: “The Leeds Plan is a declaration of what our health and care system will do to help realise these ambitions. It clearly states our goals and how we’ll get there by working with people, communities and as a partnership.

“Actions captured within the Leeds Plan will also help us when we work with our wider partners, from education, housing, community safety, and beyond.”