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Government set to cut GP fees for solicitors

The Government is preparing to defy GPs by cutting the £50 fee they can charge solicitors for access to medical records.

The move, which will outrage GPs, comes despite BMA claims that ministers are willing to increase the charges to stop solicitors trawling through records on 'fishing trips' before taking a case.

GPC chair Dr John Chisholm told a new contract roadshow in London that ministers had recognised the problem and were 'interested in deterring it through the mechanism of higher charges'.

He added: 'The Government has agreed to a list of circumstances in the contract when charges can be levied. One of them is when solicitors go on fishing trips and trawl through your records.'

But a Department of Health spokesman told Pulse last week it was 'more likely that charges would go down'.

GPs won a battle two years ago to keep the maximum charge for access to paper records at £50. It had been set to fall to £10, the fee for computerised records. The charges are now being evaluated by the Government's health records and data review group.

Ministers are under pressure from the Campaign for Freedom of Information to keep fees low to ensure patient access is affordable.

GPC negotiator and chair of the BMA's professional fees committee, Dr Peter Holden, said the BMA would take the Government to the European Court of Human Rights if it cut the fees.

'If charges go down doctors will just refuse. If we are compelled to do something that is slavery, out of our own pockets and our time, then we would expect to explore avenues such as the European Court.'

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