I’m actually a Wednesday’s Child which means I’m full of woe – at least I was this morning when I had to leave my children to do my first Saturday surgery at the health centre. I wish I could say it was a waste of time, but actually it went quite well. I saw a completely different group of patients from normal. All but two were working adults, and most of them consulted infrequently. Prior to the most recent GP contract, the Saturday surgery was a standard part of the weekly service, and was an emergency surgery – no pre-booked patients – which meant that we were seeing the same patients, usually with minor self limiting conditions. The “new” Saturday surgery is for pre-booked consultations only – the idea is that it improves access to GPs for working people who can’t (or more likely won’t) take time off work during the week.
The other advantage of the new Saturday surgery was how smoothly it went. With no emergencies that might expand a ten minute consultation into a half hour one, no interruptions (the doors were locked so patients had to ring the bell, and the phones were off), and a lovely quiet health centre, it didn’t feel as hectic as a normal week day – even though I saw 50% more patients than I normally do. I’m tired now, though, and need a weekend to recover from my six day week. And I only get a day.
But so far my impression is that the Saturday surgery for routine problems could work quite well. Obviously I’m pretty furious that we have been manipulated into offering them by the threat of a pay cut, but in terms of patient care, I think it could work. Don’t all shout at once.