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Polish Doctor Working Weekends in UK

Polish doctor takes a 12-hour trip to do our GPs' work at weekends

At home in Poland, he earns just £300 a month.

So it is little wonder Dr Piotr Robinski commutes to Britain at weekends where he can pick up almost £2,000 in a three-day stint.

Every other week, the doctor takes a budget flight to Scotland to provide GP cover, as so few doctors are willing to work outside normal hours.

The rewards are so large for Polish doctors that many make similar trips - even though they may travel for 13 hours before starting a shift.

But critics believe such a commute could leave medics tired - and put patients' health at risk.

In 2004, about 90 per cent of GP surgeries chose to stop providing night-time and weekend care - so the service is now provided by external agencies in most parts of the country.

In rural and deprived areas it is particularly hard to find British doctors to do the work, so foreigners increasingly fill in the gaps.

Dr Robinski, 40, is based in Poznan in Poland. Every second week, after working Monday to Thursday as a GP at home, he gets up at 4am on the Friday and begins his journey to Britain.

He drives four hours to Wroclaw airport in south-west Poland, then takes a cheap flight to Glasgow which takes two hours and 20 minutes.

Having arrived in Glasgow, he drives a hire car to Aberdeen, which can take him another four hours.

After a shower and a snack he works for five hours work covering GPs practices across Aberdeen.

On the Saturday and Sunday he works nine hour shifts - then goes home to Poland and back to work.

On the Friday Dr Robinski was shadowed by British press. He started work at 6pm, first seeing a 75-year-old man.

He made three more home visits and finished at 11pm.

He said: "Doctors in the UK usually only work in one workplace.

"Doctors in Poland work in more than one workplace so it is completely normal for me to take another job somewhere else.

"If I wouldn't go to Scotland I would find second job here in Poland."

On his British shifts he earns about £80 an hour, although that can rise to £200 an hour on bank holidays.

"For me it's just like taking a bus to work now," he said.

"The whole journey usually takes 12 hours."

But Dr Anthony Halperin, spokesman for healthcare charity the Patients Association, said: "What I have concern about is that he has to treat patients after 12 hours of travelling time - he must be a very tired man and I cannot see how he can give his full attention to patients."

Dr Robinski does his weekend work for NHS Grampian, which subcontracts out-of-hours GP cover through agencies such as Cherry Tree Medical, which hired him.

NHS Grampian said: "If we did not use the locums, patient safety would be compromised.

"When they are in this country they are give the statutory rest periods."

Cherry Tree Medical said: "We instruct doctors to limit their working hours to ensure patient safety is not compromised."


Re: Polish Doctor Working Weekends in UK

"In 2004, about 90 per cent of GP surgeries chose to stop providing night-time and weekend care - so the service is now provided by external agencies in most parts of the country."

It was the renegotiated GP contract which created this situation by allowing them the option to opt out of providing out of hours cover. I think it is something Gordie is trying to change by extending surgery opening hours to evenings and weekends. Of course people end up taking sickies because they cannot just go to a doctor and get some medicine when they need it. They often have to wait until the next day to get an urgent appointment.

Re: Polish Doctor Working Weekends in UK

The re-negotiated contract showed just how utterly incompetent the govt is.

The negotiations went like this:

Govt: We will pay you lots more money in return for you promising to work less.
Docs: Can't say fairer than that, guv. Now, about that cheque ...