Reducing The GP Workload With Out Of Hours

GP workload has become a topic of much debate. So much so that delegates at last month’s BMA conference voted in favour of capping the workload of doctors, thus ending “insane” open-ended contracts for general practitioners. This result has prompted widespread conversation about the approach to GP working hours. As such, the demand for out of hours services is ever-increasing, and not just for patients in need of more flexible appointment times – many GPs are also seeing the benefits of working out of hours.

GP workload has reached crisis point

The rising workload of GPs over the last decade is thought to have reached crisis point. BPA said the current workload could lead to a severe drop in staff morale and compromised patient care. According to a spokesperson from BPA, the motion to cap the number of face-to-face consultations a GP has each day is necessary for “the safety of patients and sanity of GPs.”

The BMA spokesperson added:

“GPs are in favour of a sensible workload to ensure they deliver the best care to their patients and do not put their own health and welfare at even greater risk.”

But is this the whole answer? While GP workloads may be capped, the number of patients requiring daytime care has risen sharply, while the GP workforce is in decline. Therefore, if you’re suffering a heavy workload and you need a change of pace, working out of hours could be the answer.

What does out of hours mean?

Out of hours GPs have more flexible, changing patterns of work than regular practitioners. Working times for an out of hours GP might include weekends, evenings, nights, and public holidays. These hours are generally well-suited to those who need more flexibility in their lifestyles, such as parents of small children or those looking to study or train in new areas.

How does working out of hours reduce GP workload?

Out of hours work comes with many benefits: change of pace, more interesting cases, reduced commute time, and the flexibility of irregular work times. It can also minimise workload for GPs in a number of ways.

Out of hours presents more short-term cases

Working out of hours often means seeing patients with more urgent needs, rather than those with chronic or ongoing conditions. In most cases, you will diagnose a patient and then refer them on for further treatment, rather than acting as their primary physician. Not only will this reduce your day-to-day workload, but you’ll also improve your triage skills.

Out of hours care requires different organisation skills

Although you will need to be incredibly sharp and organised as an out of hours GP, the work requires a different set of skills. Not only will you be working with unfamiliar patients on more of a short-term basis, but you’ll also often be doing so with no access to their medical records or previous history. Working as an out of hours GP usually involves referring patients to different doctors and specialists or speaking to patients over the phone to give advice.

Many out of hours cases don’t need referrals

For the majority of out of hours cases, you’ll do nothing more than give advice. Out of hours work often means identifying whether a patient needs immediate treatment or can wait to see their regular doctor. If the case is ongoing or less acute, you will need to provide medical advice so they stay safe until they can consult their regular GP.

Apply to work out of hours today

Out of hours work is both satisfying and challenging, but it doesn’t bring the burgeoning workload of a daytime GP. As such, it is said to greatly reduce GP anxiety and other mental health issues, offering a far better work/life balance. If working out of hours appeals to you, you can browse the vacancies on our recruitment page. Become an out of hours GP with EBPC by applying today, or contact us to discuss your options.