Feature Head to head

Should general practitioners resume 24 hour responsibility for their patients? Yes

BMJ 2007; 335 doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/bmj.39350.506991.AD (Published 04 October 2007) Cite this as: BMJ 2007;335:696
  1. Roger Jones, Wolfson professor of general practice
  1. Department of General Practice and Primary Care, King's College London, London SE11 6SP
  1. roger.jones{at}kcl.ac.uk

    Complaints about the care provided by out of hours services in the UK are growing. Roger Jones thinks that general practitioners should take back the role, but Helen Herbert believes their efforts would be better focused on improving current systems

    New contractual arrangements to encourage practices to opt back in to 24 hour responsibility and to support general practitioners who choose to discharge this responsibility personally would have many benefits. The change would begin to redress the increasing separation of daytime, surgery based care from out of hours care provided by deputising services. These arrangements would also improve general practice training; greatly increase the quality and appropriateness of out of hours care, particularly in terms of hospital admissions and appropriate use of services by patients; and enhance patient safety by improving the communication of important clinical information. They would be widely welcomed not only by patients but also by other sectors of the medical profession, and are also likely to be cost effective.

    Sick system

    The background to this debate is the new contract for general practitioners introduced in 2004, which allowed …

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