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Friday, 30 September 2005 11:54
BNN: British Nursing News Online · www.bnn-online.co.uk
GP reform threat to patient care
A survey carried out by the BBC has revealed that nearly half of GPs feel that patient care has been compromised by changes to the way night and weekend shifts are arranged.

Following the decision of most GPs to opt out of providing out-of-hours care, 45 per cent of the 500 respondents said standards had dropped.

But 85 per cent said they thought their own quality of life had improved.

The British Medical Association said that, on the whole, patients had benefited from the changes but patientís groups said that care had worsened, with the NHS more focused on staff than the public.

The new GP contract, introduced in April last year, allowed 95 per cent of GPs to refuse out-of-hours work as local health authorities arranged alternative cover in the form of GP co-operatives, paramedics and nurses.

One year on from the reforms, the BBC survey found that a third of doctors felt the change had put extra strain on local A&E services.

Simon Williams, director of policy at the Patients Association, said: "The NHS is increasingly being designed around the needs of staff, not patients.

"This is wrong. It is taxpayers' money that is being spent and the patient must come first.

"Instead, when a patient needs help out of hours, they face a trip down to A&E or long waits on the phone. Care has undoubtedly got worse."

But Dr Peter Swinyard, of the British Medical Association's GP committee, said patient care had improved.

"We have got to think about the whole of patient care rather than just the out-of-hours period.

"When we were doing out-of-hours care, patients were being seen by tired and stressed doctors. That was not good for care.

"The big revolution has been that doctors are now alert during the day, and specialist care is available in the night."


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