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Charge up to £25 for a GP visit, says influential think-tank

An influential think-tank has recommended the Government considers charging patients up to £25 for a GP appointment, becoming the latest in a series of recent reports mooting the controversial move.

The King’s Fund report, ‘A new settlement for health and social care’, says that ‘hard choices’ will needed to be made to maintain a ‘high-quality seamless service for the 21st century’.

It concludes that solving the lack of resources will require four elements: improved productivity; a change in the way resources are spent; an increase in taxation; and some new or higher charges.

The report follows similar comments by former health secretary Lord Warner this week, who recommended a £10 monthly subscription to pay for health services.

The King’s Fund report says the health service has to be better resourced to cope with the challenges of an ageing society and technological advances in medicine.

It suggests a charge of between £5 and £25 to see a GP - but notes that countries such as New Zealand and Sweden charge at the higher end of that range.

The report estimates a charge of £10 to see a GP, practice nurse or other primary care professional, or simply to have a GP consultation over the phone, might raise around £3 billion; a similar charge for A&E visits could raise a further £220 million.

A Pulse survey last year found 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.

Of the 440 GPs polled in the survey, 51% said they would support charging a small fee for GP appointments, compared with 36% who would not.  

Readers' comments (24)

  • It's about time charging for a and e, GP appointments and OOH is the only way to curb demand, save the NHS and afford a combined social and health care budget. Enough is enough we cannot continue like this

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  • A&E casual attendance - charge
    GP charge - NO
    However, I would be delighted to pay for my visits to GP, provided, I am not expected to pay for the NHS via my taxation. So, reduce my taxes and let us pay for services... Woops! that is called USA, and this is UK - just wanted to point that bit out for our geographically challenged colleagues

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  • If that happens then basic and essential drugs should be available without attending GP surgery, or that appointment should be free. Imagine the disparity if one doctor prescribes 28 days for a ££ consultation while another prescribes 3 x 28 days.

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  • This is a vote losing idea so its hard to see which political party would want to take this one to the electorate - even though most of us recognise its probably the only way to sustain some kind of NHS! Added to which, do we really want general practice to become the collector of taxes - some of us remember the poll tax?

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  • Yes, let's do it
    Visits are massively time consuming, widely abused and mostly unnecessary
    'E can't cum to surgry cos he's drunk and can't draav' was a common one when I did GPOOH years ago
    It's a silly old dinosaur and should be stopped
    Or get the malingerers to pay for it, my time and my petrol

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  • Increase overall tax - make all corporations pay tax. We are a tax haven for many companies. We underfund compared to other countries. If GPs charge then it will affect the poorest and increase the two-tier health system.

    The cot of administrating a GP pay system outweighs the financial benefit and is an economically inefficient way to fund healthcare. You are being hammered by people who hate the NHS and want it to be handed over. They are running it down on purpose.

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  • In principal it might be a good idea, but in practice it is very difficult...

    I have seen an asthmatic this morning, borderline for admission, but I am keeping him at home and seeing him again at 5pm - would he be comfortable paying 2 charges? - Do I just admit him to save him money?

    Then there is the people who will take the p*&$. Claim they are desperately unwell but cannot afford an appointment. We get it already with people who cannot afford to get to the surgery, so you 'must' visit me at home, which smells of expensive cigarettes.

    Finally there will be people who genuinely cannot afford it. £25 is a lot - there were times as a student that it would have fed me for a week and there are plenty of people in that situation now.

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  • Vinci Ho

    (1) there is a difference between paying a flat rate and the full cost of consultation
    (2) who can afford? Who cannot ? The same principle for prescription fees may have to apply.
    (3) if this is a Scandinavian country , I suppose this will have to go for a referendum???

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  • People will just go to A&E instead because it's free, unless we start charging people in A&E for going there with non-urgent conditions!

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  • I suppose the appropriate step would charging DNA £10 per GP visit and £50 per hospital visit.

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