This site is intended for health professionals only

GP leaders demand fee for ‘picking up pieces’ left by private screening

GPs have voted for the introduction of a fee for carrying up follow up appointments with patients using private screening providers. 

Delegates at the UK LMC conference in Belfast today also agreed that screening in the UK should not take place without the approval of the National Screening Committee.

LMC leaders heard that GPs need financial recognition as they often ‘pick up the pieces’ left by private healthcare services.

Hull and East Yorkshire LMC member Dr Ciaran Kelly, who proposed the motion, said private screening providers should be mandated to deliver screening test services through to follow up consultations to explain the results to the patients.

He said: ’Private screening companies are in it for the money, pure and simple.

’They offer all sorts of tests: full body CT scans on a radiation risk, poorly-evidenced screening tests from everything from cancer to food allergies with little or no explanation of the complex sides, sentitivity or specificity behind them and unproven pseudo genetic screening tests which are even challenging for the specialists to understand.

‘Should they, shock horror, find something untoward then the patient is immediately directed to the NHS to pick up the pieces, including explaining tests that were not ordered by their GPs and should have never been organised in the first place.’

He added: ‘For these companies, the time taking to counsel the patients to [understand] the result would impact upon their operating profit margin so they want to offload that responsibility as quickly as possible to us.

‘All in all it just represents another example of private medicine skimming the cream and leaving the dishwater for an already stretched primary care services to try more luck.

‘My problem is not people going and getting private healthcare to decide whether there’s something wrong or there isn’t, my problem is that if they find something wrong, who takes responsibility?’

Avon LMC member Dr Sam Creaving said: ‘This is really an appeal for the GPC to work with public health agencies and guideline development groups to make sure the work we may be doing is resourced and GPs are protected.’

Motion passed in full

North and North East Lincolnshire: That conference believes that health screening:

(i) should not take place within the UK’s national health services without the approval of the UK National Screening Committee

(ii) if carried out privately, requires the screening provider to provide follow up appointments with patients to discuss abnormal results, and if the GPs end up doing this work for them, they are empowered to directly invoice the company for their time