The Way I See It

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I’M not going to pussyfoot around the subject: it’s unacceptable that an out-of-hours GP is no longer available in Hawick.

This is an issue that needs to be addressed urgently. Apparently, this scenario has arisen because doctors are unwilling to work evenings, weekends or public holidays, and what’s more alarming is that it’s now a nationwide problem.

Now, you could argue that GPs need more incentives to want to work out-of-hours. By incentives we always mean money, but I’ve got a problem with doctors who aren’t prepared to work out-of-hours unless they receive bumper pay cheques. Not that I’m saying GPs don’t deserve to be well paid, as it’s undoubtedly a very demanding profession that is often very stressful. However, shouldn’t their main motivation be the desire to help people, and not the amount of money they can pocket? Perhaps I’m being a little a naïve here, am I?

But if GPs honestly feel hard done by earning anything between £50-£80K a year, then I’m afraid it’s time they took a reality check. In my opinion, being available out-of-hours is part and parcel of the job. I’m not saying the same doctor should be available 24/7 but there should be a robust system in place to ensure a doctor is always on call.

If a GP had a burst water pipe during the holiday season, do you think they would hesitate to phone a plumber? Imagine the outcry if fire-fighters decided that unless they were to receive a little incentive, they wouldn’t be responding to any emergencies on a Sunday night. What’s more it has a knock-on effect, with people more inclined to visit already stretched accident and emergency departments with minor ailments, putting staff under more unnecessary pressure.

By refusing to work out-of-hours, doctors are railing against the cornerstone of their profession (helping others), and even worse they are potentially putting the health of people in the town at risk. If you fall ill, or need medical attention after a specific time, you should not have to wait on a doctor coming from Borders General Hospital. A town the size of Hawick should have a doctor available at all times.