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Letter: Who will pay for out-of-hours GPs?

Sir: The letter (22 July) from Gerald Malone, Minister for Health, is very good news if the pounds 45m is indeed money for setting up out-of-hours services that would not have been spent on any other NHS provision. However, it does not resolve the problem of the out-of-hours service.

This is an issue of the quality of service that patients have a right to expect and that GPs can reasonably be expected to provide, given the increasing demands on their daytime work.

General practice has changed in the past 20 years, but the out-of-hours service has not. GPs and their families are still carrying the financial burden and suffering invasion of their time and privacy to provide a service. Out-of-hours should be as professional as the daytime service. However, the provision of staff, cars, base surgeries and radios costs money on a recurring basis. The pounds 45m may well provide for the setting up of a service, but who will pay for the running costs?

Time and again taxpayers have indicated a willingness to pay for a good NHS. Give us the resources and we will provide it.

Yours sincerely,

Josie Hicks



23 July