Doctors still considering options

DOCTORS in Suffolk are still considering their options today regarding controversial changes to their opening hours.GPs in the county had been due to meet on Wednesday to discuss government proposals which would see surgeries opening for longer hours, offering evening and weekend appointments to patients.

DOCTORS in Suffolk are still considering their options today regarding controversial changes to their opening hours.

GPs in the county had been due to meet on Wednesday to discuss government proposals which would see surgeries opening for longer hours, offering evening and weekend appointments to patients.

But the meeting, organised by Suffolk's Local Medical Committee (LMC), was postponed after the British Medical Association's GP Committee (GPC) said it was now considering one of the government's proposals.

Previously the GPC and government had been at loggerheads over the arrangements, which is why the Suffolk meeting was arranged.

Now the GPC has said it will poll all GPs in the country to gauge their views on a proposal which would see the average GP practice would having to offer three extended hours a week or face losing £18,000 of income.

Bill Robinson, chief executive of the Suffolk LMC, which represents GPs in the county, said: “We will wait to see the results of the poll before doing anything else. Once we have the outcome we will decide if we need to meet again.

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“We need to know what the response to the deal on the table is.”

Dr Laurence Buckman, chairman of GPC said the group was not happy about any of the government's proposals but had chosen which one was least bad.

He added: “GPs have been put in an impossible position and will have to choose between two unacceptable alternatives.

“We believe the impositions as they stand will be unsafe for doctors as they will have to work on their own late at night. Patients also won't get the full range of services. GPs are willing to do extended hours, we put forward our own proposal in December - we just don't think the government's plans as they stand at the moment will be good for general practice or patient care.”

The Department of Health has said that more than six million patients are unhappy with their surgery opening hours.

Would you like longer opening hours at your GP surgery? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich IP4 1AN or e-mail eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk.