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The waiting game

GPs 'bribed' to shop NHS tourists

GPs will get to keep the money they save the health service if they blow the whistle on suspected 'NHS tourists', under new Government plans.

A Department of Health official told Pulse the Government intended the move 'to be another income stream for GPs'.

But GPs and academics have described the proposal, due to be unveiled by health minister John Hutton later this month, as 'outrageous', 'bribery' and damaging to the doctor-patient relationship.

GPC joint-deputy chair Dr Simon Fradd said the policy was inappropriate.

'Once you have registered someone it's nigh on impossible to pick out and find these patients,' he said.

'I don't like the concept or the bribery aspect to this. GPs have responsibility for public funds but that's inappropriate.'

Dr Paul Kind, a health economist at the University of York, said there was no evidence health tourism was a problem.

'Providing a financial incentive to whistleblow on potentially ineligible patients as a source of income is an outrageous concept,' he said.

Dr Ian Burton, a GP in Manchester, said GPs could be accused of racism.

'You are faced with the process of confirming ineligibility with them.

'The doctor/patient relationship goes out the window,' he added.

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