Practices are considering switching off an online contact system over weekends because of the “unmanageable” workload they face on Mondays, it has been revealed.
In Kent the local medical committee is consulting members about whether to press for this change and has been holding a poll of doctors. The LMC said it expected the poll to show practices finding the workload outside of core hours to be unmanageable. This would apply in the evenings and overnight as well as at weekends. The problems have been caused by a system which allows patients to pose questions and report systems to practices.
Speaking to the Health Service Journal, Kent GP Dr Julian Spinks said: “Realistically, Monday mornings are hell at the best of times, let alone with the possibility of having several 100 extra queries to deal with. I’ve heard stories of GPs and their staff coming in at six o’clock in the morning to start the process on a Monday morning to try and clear the backlog. Each of the queries …to be looked at, assigned a telephone or face-to-face consultation or something else, then acted upon. It’s a big workload.”
The digital provider eConsult said that 3,500 practices use its platform and 355 switch off patient reporting at weekends – directing patients to self-help only.
An NHS England spokesperson claimed it was a “spurious generalisation” to say practices were struggling with the Monday morning workload.