THE public must share the blame for the out-of-hours GP staffing crisis - because patients are ‘abusing’ the system.

A health source, who works closely with on-call doctors, said many, ‘come out of the woodwork’ to volunteer for extra work on Christmas Day, because they can expect to earn around £1,000 a shift.

He said problems recruiting work at Glasgow’s out-of-hours clinics was partly down to the conditions medics are working under.

He blamed patients going straight to centres without phoning NHS24 and turning up with minor complaints, which could be solved with ‘paracetamol and Calpol’.

The Evening Times told how two out-of-hours services at Easterhouse and the Queen Elizabeth University Hospital were forced to close on Saturday, December 1 due to staff shortages. It is understood the Easterhouse service may have to shut completely because of the problem.

NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde is currently carrying out a review of all emergency out-of-hours services.

The NHS source said the situation could be helped by adopting a system operating in Hamilton in Lanarkshire, whereby patients are offered an appointment when they call NHS 24, rather than told to turn up. at centres and wait.

He said: “Obviously the doctors want more money. But it’s also about the working conditions. When a doctor walks in and sees what’s in front of him. The system is being abused by the public. There are people who go to out-of-hours clinics without phoning NHS 24.

“You can go to the supermarket and get a packet of paracetamol or Calpol for a child but you can’t get it for free.

“Over the festive period, they (the doctors) all come out of the woodwork. They are getting paid £1000 a shift. Some of them do a double shift. I’m not saying they don’t deserve it. I respect the fact that many of them work their socks off.

“The system is struggling and it’s been struggling for years and it needs to change.

“If you go to the Victoria hospital you have to wait for a patient to come out before you can go in. The service at the QEUH has had to close quite a number of times. There has been a rumour for a while that the Easterhouse services was going to go.

“In Lanarkshire there is a system where you are allocated a time slot. We should be adopting the same system.”

Dr Andrew Buist, chair of the BMA’s Scottish GP Committee (SGPC). said: “There can be no doubt that recruitment and retention issues persist for GPs across Scotland – and this clearly has a large impact on out of hours services. Of course, that can mean covering out of hours shifts can be a challenge and the costs associated with doing so reflect that.”

A spokeswoman for NHSGGC said: “We would remind any patient not to attend a GP out-of-hours service without first calling NHS 24 who will direct them to most appropriate healthcare service for their needs.”