Low demand sees doctors’ night hours cut

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FEWER doctors will be on call out of hours during the week because demand is so low.

The night operation is being changed on a trial basis after a review found there were often only two or three calls an hour on weeknights.

But on a Saturday morning, on average, 75 people called on doctors each hour.

At the moment, in the Portsmouth area there are 14 GPs on Saturday who will do home visits compared with six on weeknights.

There will be fewer during the trial, although the exact details have not yet been confirmed.

But an anonymous worker for the service is concerned the changes could lead to job cuts.

They said: ‘If they cut cars it will be catastrophic.

‘The service is running out of money so they’re cutting cars and jobs.

‘I don’t know how they’re going to run the service because cars are used all the time.

‘If there are less cars then the most vulnerable people, such as the elderly, could suffer.’

The service is run by Solent NHS Trust, which said it is not cutting jobs, but redirecting its resources based on demands.

Matthew Hall, associate director of urgent care and out of hours, said: ‘In reviewing the GP out of hours service, it is evident there are periods when demand is high and when we don’t have as many patients requiring the service.

‘We’re simply looking at ensuring we make the best use of our GPs and attendant resources by responding to demands on the service.

‘We cover about 600,000 patients.

‘On average we get 75 calls per hour on Saturday mornings, compared with two to three calls in the middle of the night.

‘On the whole we take more than 200,000 calls per year – 20,000 of which are from the Portsmouth area.

‘There are absolutely no job losses because GPs work with us on a contractual basis and we are not making cuts to the service.

‘Resources need to be where the greatest demands are.

‘We would stop the trial if we started to get more calls in the middle of the night.’

Jock Mclees said: