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Let GPs charge patients for appointments after 6pm

I see the Government wants GPs to open between 6pm and 10pm so patients do not have to take time off work, and that such out-of-hours opening would be paid for as an enhanced service (News, March 8).

If current proposed levels of remuneration for enhanced services are anything to go by the money on offer would be unlikely to tempt many doctors or their staff to work these unsocial hours.

GPC chair Dr John Chisholm says dual registration 'made more sense' but dual registration makes no sense, and the idea was floated and dropped only a couple of years ago.

If patients really want the option of seeing their GP at a time convenient to them the solution is blindingly obvious. Give patients genuine choice and allow them to see their own GP after hours on a private basis.

At a rate of £150-£200 an hour the GP can pay himself and his staff what they are worth for once and the taxpayer isn't lumbered with footing the bill for yet another crackpot scheme whose only real purpose is headline and vote grabbing.

The patients at whom this service is aimed are working, and can still be seen free at the point of use in normal working hours if they prefer, so there cannot be any concerns on vulnerable members of society being put off seeking medical advice due to cost.

Everyone's a winner, except the Government and the BMA, who would be forced to drop their outdated socialist policy that GPs cannot offer their registered patients general medical services privately.

Dr Tim Atkinson

Littlehampton, West Sussex

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