GPs reject calls to charge patients

Topics covered: Ridouts professional advice

Doctors have rejected calls to charge patients for GP visits. During the British Medical Association’s annual conference, delegates voted against the idea but warned that services were being stretched so much that care was being put at risk.

During the debate on charging, which comes after some GPs call for charges of between £10 and £25 per visit, doctors also expressed concern about rising workloads. The BMA’s GP leader Dr Chaand Nagpaul said that general practice was becoming “conveyor belt medicine” explaining that some GPs have to see up to 60 patients a day.

Dr Helena McKeown spoke in favour of charging patients saying, “a fixed fee for some services for some patients will emphasise our value.”

One GP against the proposal said that, “charging will fundamentally change the unique relationship between GPs and patients. Charging will blur the boundaries between the NHS and non-NHS services.”

Another GP said the idea was “unethical, dangerous and disingenuous”.

A Department of Health spokeswoman said that ministers recognised the challenges GPs face, but pointed out that the government was trying to relieve the pressure by reducing bureaucracy and by taking on more trainees.

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