LMC leaders have called on the GPC to pave the way for a vast expansion in the private services that GPs are allowed to provide to their patients, by renegotiating the GMS contract to allow practices to charge for treatment not funded by the NHS.
In a knife-edge vote at today's annual LMCs Conference in Liverpool, GPs narrowly backed a call to expand on the current limited list of treatments practices are able to provide to their patients privately.
The motion was opposed by the GPC leadership and deeply divided GPs at the conderence , but was narrowly passed by 48% to 47% by LMC leaders.
The full motion, proposed by Dr Nimish Shah, a member of Morgannwg LMC, said: 'Conference urges GPC to negotiate a change to the GMS contract that would allow patients to receive treatment not funded by the NHS from their own GP on a private basis.'
The motion could allow a vast expansion in the range of services GPs can provide privately, with the potential for patients to be able to access some services on the NHS in some areas, and have to pay their GP in others.
Dr Shah told the conference: 'Perceived conflict of interest is nonsense. GPs can't compete on the same level as private administrators.'
'We're talking about things that are not funded on the NHS. Whether it should be funded on the NHS or not is a different argument. Patients need the treatment so by opposing all you're doing is forcing them to buy it somewhere else.'
But Dr Greg Place from Nottinghamshire LMC, was one of a clutch of GPs to oppose the motion. 'Some lines shouldn't be crossed,' he warned. 'We should avoid the American model of care.'
Dr Richard Van Mellaerts, of Kingston and Richmond LMC, was also against the plan. He said: 'I don't want to smile and say no, nudge nudge wink wink and encourage patients to cross my palm with silver. Patients won't be sure what hat I'm wearing.'