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GP leaders to debate seven-day services and charging overseas patients today

GP leaders will debate and vote on seven-day GP appointments at the annual LMC Conference today.

The two-day conference will also see LMC representatives vote on whether to charge overseas visitors as private patients for use of NHS general practice – with any fees to be retained by the practice in full.

Suffolk LMCs will propose that the conference ‘insists that the seven-day mantra be abandoned and any additional resource available should be used to enhance the weekend emergency cover services’.

The motion on charging overseas patients was put forward by East Sussex LMC, who argue that overseas patients should pay private fees to GPs, which should be retained by general practice.

This comes after today’s Queen’s Speech said that migrants would be charged for NHS services that they are not entitled to, and the Department of Health has already launched a consultation on charging foreign visitors for some GP services, such as blood and lung-function tests, but keeping consultations free.

Other issues up for debate include whether the national self-certification standard should be extended from seven to 14 days.

The conference will also debate locums, with the GPC sessional subcommittee proposing a motion against any capping of locum rates and Derbyshire LMC proposing the opposite motion, requesting ’our profession to come together to agree a fair and reasonable cap on GP locum fees’, which will not be debated if the sessional subcommittee motion passes.

Several LMCs have submitted motions calling for the GPC to collect undated resignations from GPs following on from the motion at the Special LMCs Conference earlier this year, but a change in format means there is no guarantee they will be discussed.

The GP trainees subcommittee has also called for a review on the future of the independent contract status. The motion asks for a survey of trainee and young GPs’ career intentions and proposals on how the independent contractor model can be preserved while offering new GPs the protected training time, and employment rights that hospital doctors enjoy, and exploring salaried systems.

Other motions, all of which are not guaranteed to be debated, include calls for:

  • Health Education England to encourage the recruitment of overseas GPs to fill workforce gaps;
  • A ballot of the profession on mass patient list closures because of the ‘currently unmanageable workload’;
  • CQC fees to be paid on a capitation basis;
  • An end to home visits being part of the core GP contract;
  • GPs who have spent ‘significant portions’ of their career working nights being entitled to retire five years earlier than pensionable age. 

The LMC Conference this year will take a different format from previous conferences, with delegates taking part in wider debates on four main areas: funding; workload; workforce; and professionalism.