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GPs advised not to issue private prescriptions

GPs practising under NHS contracts are being advised not to offer private prescriptions alongside FP10s.

GPC has taken legal advice on whether a GP can offer patients a private prescription where it would be less costly to the patient to do so than paying a prescription charge.

But lawyers suggested that as this would deprive the NHS of money, it would be 'wrongful'.

Cleveland LMC told members that 'the question raised relates specifically to whether GPs can issue private prescription forms at the same time as FP10s, in circumstances where this is a cheaper option for the patient than paying the NHS prescription charge'.

It said: 'GPC was asked to consider whether this could be either a breach of the regulations or collusion to defraud the NHS, who would otherwise recoup the prescription charge.  

'The legal advice received is clear that in cases of treatment under the primary care contract, GPs may not issue private prescriptions alongside and as an alternative to FP10s.'

It added that the legal advice was that 'in any case where a GP is obliged to issue an FP10, the concurrent issue of a private prescription will be a breach of obligation'.

'In any case where a GP is obliged or entitled to issue an FP10 the concurrent issue of a private prescription will be conduct calculated to deprive the NHS of a small amount of money and will on that account also be wrongful. The advice is therefore that GPs do not issue private prescriptions under these circumstances,' it concluded.

 

Readers' comments (11)

  • They have got to source that missing £350 million NHS EU money from somewhere

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  • My understanding of prescription charges is that they were intended to pay something towards the cost of medicines, not to be a deception to have patients pay over the odds for medicines. If there is any fraud, it is by the department of health.

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  • How about private scripts for the things that cannot be prescribed on NHS nationally? Or for the ones that are grey listed locally?

    e.g. can I offer a private script for branded viagra as an alternative to a generic script for sildenafil on NHS?

    Because back in the days when we could only prescribe sildenafil to people with diabetes and post surgery, we were allowed to prescribe it privately for our own NHS patients who didn't fulfil NHS criteria.

    Nobody seems to have an answer to this one!

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  • What about doing blood tests like fbc/ ue/ lft on the request of private consultants to be done by own gp.
    I had to refuse few, telling the private consultant to be arranged in private sector.

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  • This is simply a stealth tax.By definition, those who have to pay for scripts will also be paying income tax (for the NHS)
    What about the corollary for exempt patients: "paracetamol will help your sore throat but I will not issue an NHS script;go and buy your own"?
    What about a patient who sees a GP for an NHS consultation but then elects to have a private referral(saving the NHS money).Should the NHS retrospectively charge the patient for the GP consultation?
    Forget the obfuscation, this is a revenue earning scheme, and the patients have a right to know.

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  • @GP partner 27 June 10.29

    The advice given by Cleveland LMC is designed to prevent GPs from issuing private scripts for items less than the NHS script fee and "depriving" the NHS of those fees. If you write a private script for an item that isn't available on FP10, for whatever reason, then the advice doesn't apply so you'd be in the clear.

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  • This is a choice we make for our patients. I have no intention to change the way I prescribe. If it suits my patients, who are free agents, I will continue to prescribe privately. What a load of 1984 garbage.

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  • I've had the same advice/instruction. As far as I can see the prescription charge doesn't go to the NHS it just goes to the Treasury. It's a straight forward tax on the ill non prescription exempt pts. If patients knew that the ramipril they are paying 8.40 for cost about a pound they would all be very angry. I offer a FP10 and also a private script and let people choose which they would prefer.

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  • The advice to the GPC is just wrong. Making people pay extortionate fees is morally and probably legally unjustifiable.

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  • Of course the chemist can charge a dispensing fee for private prescriptions and some GPs may also charge a prescribing fee which would be likely to result in little or no savings for the patient.

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