Does Out-of-hours Work Long Term for GPs?
You probably don’t need us to tell you that demand for NHS services is at record levels with the worst waiting times in NHS history. Many GP surgeries, hospitals and other parts of the NHS are struggling to cope, causing more and more patients and doctors to turn to out of hours services to plug the gap.
Out-of-hours sessions with GPs tend to be popular with both patients and GPs as it allows patients to be seen at times that fit around their work and other commitments. For GPs, it allows them more freedom and flexibility over when to work.
But does working out of hours long term work for GPs? And what impact does it have on services and patients? We look at the opportunities and effects of GP out of hours work long term.
Meeting NHS demand
With many GP surgeries now open 7 days a week from 8am-8pm, the focus on GPs working outside of traditional surgery hours is in the spotlight more than ever. This approach has the potential to make the provision of NHS services more suited to the modern health needs of the population with helping the NHS better cope with increasing demand.
One of the big issues facing the NHS is A&E departments being overwhelmed with people who would be better off visiting their GP. This is where out-of-hours practice can help make a real difference. By encouraging people not to go to A&E unless they really need it and getting them to see an out-of-hours GP instead, demand will be better spread and more appropriately streamed towards the right services.
This can make it easier for the NHS to cope, taking some of the stress off A&E departments and also reducing waiting times for patients, ensuring they get seen by the right service faster.
A more flexible way to work
The growing demand on NHS services and pressure on the government to improve the provision of GP appointments outside of traditional 9-5 hours means there is going to be plenty of out-of-hours work available for GPs for the foreseeable future.
This is great news for doctors as it means more opportunities for them to work flexibly in a way that suits them. Out-of-hours work can offer an additional income for GPs working regular hours, but it can also provide a solution for doctors for whom traditional surgery hours are no longer appropriate.
This includes GPs with children and other commitments which mean they need more flexible hours, but also includes any doctor looking to achieve a better work-life balance by creating a work pattern that suits their needs.
Making the NHS better
GPs working out-of-hours make the NHS better for patients by providing a service that better fits patient demand. Many patients are put off by needing to book an appointment during work hours and end up putting off seeing a doctor or going to A&E simply because it is more convenient.
Out-of-hours GPs can keep hundreds of thousands of patients out of A&E, with only 5.6% of out-of-hours GP patients being referred to A&E, proving that this approach is highly affective.
If more patients can be educated about the existence and benefits of out-of-hours GP appointments and if the NHS 111 service continues to point patients to them, rather than to A&E, we can make a really positive difference to the NHS, making it better for patients and doctors.
There is also a drive to co-locate more out-of-hours GPs alongside A&E departments and with ambulance services to allow patients to be more effectively streamed at point of access. This can help services cope with increased demand when patients turn up at A&E who would be better off seeing a GP.
GP out of hours long term arrangements to suit you
East Berkshire Primary Care (EBPC) Out of Hours Service is a social enterprise run on a non-profit basis. We provide NHS services to East Berkshire Clinical Commissioning Groups covering Bracknell Forest, Slough, Windsor, Ascot and Maidenhead. These services include urgent out-of-hours medical care, giving plenty of opportunities for GPs seeking flexible work.
We offer a supportive working environment, providing GPs with the chance to take on additional shifts when it suits them. This allows many doctors to achieve a better work life balance, allowing them to fit their work around commitments such as childcare.
Many of our GPs having been working with us continuously for years and in a recent survey over 95% of them said that they felt they were well supported by EBPC management.
We offer GP out-of-hours work long term or on a more short term basis to suit you, making this a really great way to shape your career around your life.