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GP leaders to vote on whether to support patient charges for appointments

Exclusive GP leaders are set to vote on whether the GPC should ‘explore national charging for GP services’ at the LMCs Conference later this month.

The motion, put to conference by the agenda committee and set to be proposed by Wiltshire LMC on the day, suggests general practice is ‘unsustainable in its current format’ and that ‘it is no longer viable for general practice to provide all patients with all NHS services free at the point of delivery’.

The motion concludes: ‘That conference… calls on GPC to explore national charging for general practice services with the UK governments.’

A Pulse survey of 440 GPs last July showed that just over half of GPs are in favour of the NHS charging a small fee for routine appointments, with many believing it is the only way of managing their workload and curbing rising patient demand.

Other topics scheduled for debate at the annual policy meeting, set to be held 22-23 May in York, include whether or not CCGs should commission primary care, with several LMCs arguing that this will ‘fatally damage relations between CCGs and their constituents’.

However, in a counter motion, Merton, Sutton and Wandsworth LMCs will argue in favour of CCGs commissioning primary care. This comes as NHS England invited CCGs to bid to commission primary care last week.

GP leaders will also be voting on a motion to ‘reject the concept of routine general practice care 8-8 seven days a week’, a concept that has been heavily pushed by Prime Minister David Cameron over the past six months and which is likely to form part of Conservative policy ahead of next year’s general election.

The agenda document also highlighted LMC concerns over the Government’s care.data scheme, which is now set for a delayed rollout in the autumn. An agenda committee motion, to be proposed by Bedfordshire LMC will say that ‘the introduction of care.data has been nothing short of a disaster’ and call for a patient ‘opt-in’ system to replace the current process of patients having to opt out if they disapprove of their records being shared.

The motion says: ‘That conference believes the introduction of care.data has been nothing short of a disaster and.. asserts that extraction should only take place with the explicit and informed consent of patients opting-in.’

The conference will also see LMCs debating the ‘unsustainable workload in general practice’; deplore ‘the CQC’s plans for a simplistic rating system for practices’; and condemn the ‘disorganised mess’ resulting from the NHS reorganisation, including delayed payments to GP practices.

Highlights from the 2014 LMC conference agenda

AGENDA COMMITTEE to be proposed by WILTSHIRE That conference:
(i) believes that general practice is unsustainable in its current format
(ii) believes that it is no longer viable for general practice to provide all patients with all NHS services free at the point of delivery
(iii) urges the UK governments to define the services that can and cannot be accessed in the NHS
(iv) calls on GPC to consider alternative funding mechanisms for general practice
(v) calls on GPC to explore national charging for general practice services with the UK governments.

AGENDA COMMITTEE to be proposed by NOTTINGHAMSHIRE: That conference views with alarm proposals contained in NHS England’s (NHSE) interim response to the ‘call for action for general practice’ to make CCGs co-commissioners of GP contracts and
(i) believes that this will fatally damage relations between CCGs and their constituents
(ii) warns that this will undermine CCGs’ chances of success in other areas of commissioning
(iii) predicts this will undermine the credibility of CCGs
(iv) asserts that conflicts of interests would be unacceptable
(v) insists that GP core contracts should not be held by CCGs.

AGENDA COMMITTEE to be proposed by WIRRAL That conference:
(i) rejects the concept of routine general practice care 8-8 seven days a week
(ii) believes that GPs will only provide routine planned care 8-8 seven days a week if resources are provided to the satisfaction of the profession
(iii) commends GPs for already providing unscheduled general practice care for 24 hours every day, seven days every week.

Source: BMA

Readers' comments (57)

  • I can see the Daily Mail having a field day with this!

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  • let the Daily Mail have a field day - at the end of the day we want to maintain good quality patient care, and this can only be done by putting brakes on the demand.

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  • Screw the Daily Mail

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  • So A+E will become overburdened and the government will throw more precious resources at it. Give this money to general practice to employ more nurses and pharmacists following a set triage reducing the burden on declining GP numbers

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  • Wouldn't it be great if we actually got 8 to 6:30 Primary Care Monday to Friday right before we try to tackle the weekend and longer days? Politically no one will hold their heads up and confirm consultation/patient ratios (or pay appropriately for them). There is also no political appetite to educate patients for appropriate use of GP appointments as we encourage a demand and be given society regardless of how reasonable it is/isn't.
    If charges are applied for Primary Care what impact will this have on A&E if its free to turn up there?

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  • This could be a trap - a dangerous move- potentially doing Government's bidding for them.

    They wish to destroy the NHS, but aren't willing to come out and say it for fear of the public backlash.

    So instead their plan may be to achieve this indirectly by withhold funding to such a degree, that GPs clamour for patient charges - and then they will sit back as the baying public rip GPs to pieces. The government will then issue press releases blaming 'greedy' GPs for the destruction of the 'free at the point of use NHS'.

    Be careful.

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  • Medical student thanks for your advice but we have had enough with being careful and if we all have to go private so be it....about time we did a dentist

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  • Easy on the student! They have a point. But totally agree. Now is the time to charge patients + government for our worth. Happy GP = sustainable NHS. Simpli

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  • Of course this is a lot of hot air given that the people debating it have no power or authority to bring it about even though they sound very self important.

    Does anyone who has their feet on the ground really think that any political party will entertain this in the year before a general election?

    There must be nothing else to put on the agenda for the meeting if this has room.

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  • I've been against patient charging because of one reason.

    It will not reflect the true value of the consultation, (which is of course is about 4 or 5 pounds take home, should a simple income/consultation number be believed.)
    We are cheap per consultation.
    What is a consultation worth?
    To the rich it'll be a joke and the poor a barrier.
    I only wish the BMA and their leaders spent a bit on advertising the reality rather than letting the red tops andn DH spin machine continue to destroy us.
    And to the medical student- you are 100% correct, choose where in the world you want to practice medicine because you cannot do it in 10 minutes. Go somewhere where you are valued as a professional in the quality of medicine you practice and you get paid to reflect it. Good Luck.

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