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Just one GP to cover the borough at night

PUBLISHED: 10:20 18 March 2010 | UPDATED: 10:11 12 August 2010

HEALTH campaigners have branded the number of GPs available during out-of-hours as appalling with only one covering the whole of the borough at night.

HEALTH campaigners have branded the number of GPs available during out-of-hours as "appalling" with only one covering the whole of the borough at night.

Between the hours of midnight and 8am just one GP is on call for the Primary Care Trust, which provides care for more than 300,000 patients.

Residents and health campaigners in Bromley fear that inadequate out of hours care would lead to increased pressure on hospital accident and emergency departments and some are concerned about the affect on the borough's large elderly population.

Julie Mott, 62, of Red Cedars Road, Orpington, campaigned against the closure of Orpington Treatment Centre.

She fumed: "This is not right, it is appalling.

"If we only have one GP in the borough during the night, you are not guaranteed a response, then people might go to the Accident and Emergency departments at hospitals, and that would put more pressure on these.

"Patients need to know they can get hold of a GP. With the number of elderly people in Bromley increasing, we need more than one.

"They might say that demand is low, but you can't predict health, it is like looking into a crystal ball - you can never say how many people are going to need care at any time."

Since 2004, responsibility for night and weekend care has passed from GP's to Primary Care Trusts, who usually outsource the service.

In Bromley, the care is provided by EMdoc, who guarantee that a GP will return all urgent calls.

Patients are either consulted over the phone, visited at home, or invited to come into the clinic.

Phil Warn, 64, of Mitchell Road, Orpington, sits on Bromley LINK, a group which represents the views of patients, which have replaced Patient Forums.

He said: "The figures are awful.

"I would support any campaign to get more GPs covering the borough. The coverage of out of hours GP services is an issue nationwide."

Peter Steele, 75, of White Oak Drive in Beckenham, campaigns to raise money for the Princess Royal Hospital in Farnborough. He said: "I agree entirely with what others are saying. We need a 24 hour GP service in all parts of the borough, and we don't just need one.

"I would support any calls for more GPs to be brought into the borough, they should look into it as soon as they can.

"We need at least three in Bromley, that would be ideal."

His wife Judith Steele, who has been admitted to hospital a number of times for breast cancer, said: "Bromley definitely needs more that one doctor covering the area. It needs changing."

A spokesperson for Bromley PCT said: "In response to comments about staffing levels at EMdoc we would firstly say that demand for EmDoc services through the night has historically been very low.

"Secondly, EmDoc is one of a number of Out-of-Hours services that can be called upon by patients and it aims to provide the services offered by GP surgeries when they are closed.

"As the commissioner of this service, NHS Bromley is satisfied that EmDoc offers safe and adequate cover and that staffing levels, which vary across the hours the service operates, reflect demand and avoid wastage or misuse of NHS Funds by employing GPs who aren't required.

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