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GPs could prescribe help with energy bills under Government proposals

GPs could prescribe help with energy bills under Government proposals

GPs could be tasked with prescribing money off energy bills for their most vulnerable patients, under proposals put forward by the Treasury to tackle the cost-of-living crisis.

First reported by The Sun on Saturday, the plans would see patients directed to their GP for an assessment of whether they are eligible for the financial support.

GPs would be tasked with verifying whether their patient needs help with their bills, either because they are sick, elderly or otherwise in need, before issuing the ‘prescription’, according to The Sun.

Patients would then receive cash from their local council or a voucher for gas and electricity, it said.

The Sun reported that it will be down to the next Prime Minister to sign off on the plans, so they would not come into force until a new leader is elected.

The measure is one option among the proposals to tackle soaring energy bills, which also include cutting the energy price cap by around £400, it said.

The Treasury confirmed to Pulse that it was preparing ‘options’ for the next Government.

The BMA said the proposals for GPs to prescribe energy bill discounts were ‘totally unacceptable’ and ‘beggar belief’.

BMA England GP Committee deputy chair Dr David Wrigley said: ‘We completely reject any suggestion that GPs do this work. They do not have the time or the skills to do the work of the welfare system.

‘In these next few months GPs already have to worry about delivering the Covid and flu vaccination programmes that will be necessary to see the NHS through the winter, on top of their daily crushing workload and the enormous Covid backlog we now see.’

He added: ‘At a time when GPs are already overwhelmed with the greatest workforce crisis and longest waiting lists in memory, this addition to their workload would be totally unacceptable. 

‘It beggars belief that Government ministers think it is appropriate to suggest GPs undertake it.’

Dr Wrigley said that the Government ‘has not discussed’ the proposals with the BMA ‘in any form’ and added that ‘floating these sorts of proposals via the media is deeply unprofessional’.

RCGP chair Professor Martin Marshall said: ‘Action does need to be taken to address this and minimise the impact of rising cost of living on people’s health, something that will impact on our most vulnerable patients most. But this cannot fall to GPs and our teams to facilitate.’

He added: ‘Some larger surgeries will offer additional services, such as links with citizens advice services that can offer financial advice. 

‘But GPs and other members of our team are not qualified to assess whether people should or should not receive additional financial support to help them cope with rising cost of living.’

GPs reacted with dismay to the news of the proposals, branding them ‘utter twaddle’.

Shadow health secretary Wes Streeting said that the Conservatives ‘have lost the plot on the cost of living crisis and haven’t got a clue about the level of pressure on the NHS’.

A Treasury spokesperson said: ‘We know that rising prices are causing significant challenges for families, which is why we have continually taken action to help households by phasing in £37 billion worth of support throughout the year, which includes specific support to help people through the difficult winter ahead.

‘We are making necessary preparations to ensure a new Government will have options to deliver additional support as quickly as possible.’

They added that no major fiscal decisions will be taken until the new Prime Minister is in post.

It comes as GPs are dreading an ‘apocalyptic’ winter as summer workload soars to levels typical for the coldest months of the year.

And GP leaders warned they have ‘serious concerns’ about the financial and workload implications of the autumn Covid booster programme starting next month.

Meanwhile, the RCGP has warned that general practice needs urgent support ahead of winter, including an immediate reduction of bureaucracy.


          

READERS' COMMENTS [21]

Please note, only GPs are permitted to add comments to articles

Not on your Nelly 22 August, 2022 11:09 am

No. A complete sentence

Michael Mullineux 22 August, 2022 11:12 am

‘See your GP ……..’
The reflex default for absolutely everything.

Azeem Majeed 22 August, 2022 11:50 am

The way to tackle fuel poverty is not via the NHS and certainly not through GPs who already buckling under workload pressures even before we reach winter. Let’s address this through energy policy and via the welfare system, not the NHS.

Robert James Andrew Mackenzie Koefman 22 August, 2022 11:54 am

The person who thought of this should be fired and the answer is No what is wrong with people. We are doctors not everyone’s dumping ground.

The Prime Minister 22 August, 2022 12:06 pm

We keep taking a beating off the government, it is a scene from Baldrick in the trenches…..

Fedup GP 22 August, 2022 12:18 pm

Tricky to think of anyone – healthy or otherwise that would do well in a house that was approaching zero. Its a bit like asking if a patient has a health need that means they should drink water. This is a social issue. Will the government please get back to work and do their job. I am busy doing mine. F**kwits.

Truth Finder 22 August, 2022 12:52 pm

GP-the universal problem solver. We are not social workers. Good the BMA has a backbone. Time to take us private and not deal with such rubbish.

David jenkins 22 August, 2022 1:22 pm

is it in my contract ? – no !

do i have to do it ? – no !

have i got time to do it ? – no !

do i get paid to do it ? – no !

no extra monee – no extra workee !!

give it to the railway workers/felixtowe dockers/anyone else with time on their hands – they know much more than me about poverty !!

David Banner 22 August, 2022 1:25 pm

Well at least the social prescribers foisted on us will have something to do.

David jenkins 22 August, 2022 1:41 pm

or – here’s an idea !

give every patient a voucher………………..they’d soon rethink this silly idea !!!

Slobber Dog 22 August, 2022 2:06 pm

Financial assessments are beyond my remit.

Iain Chalmers 22 August, 2022 2:33 pm

On a similar level, can GP’’s prescribe a voucher for alcoholics to whisky at local off license it’s so expensive!!

Patrufini Duffy 22 August, 2022 3:00 pm

Government advisers eaten too many laxatives. Smoking too many herbs.

John Glasspool 22 August, 2022 5:17 pm

GPs should be doing this whilst checking on old people’s boilers.

Andrew Jackson 22 August, 2022 7:50 pm

if we give them out to everyone it would fix the satisfaction survey

Carpe Vinum 23 August, 2022 8:57 am

Well… it’s in The Sun so it must be true 😉

Nicola Williams 23 August, 2022 12:23 pm

I have just read the article about the governments ideas on reducing beaurocracy in general practice …………………… and then this article ……………………………
these halfwits run out country. frightening

Just Your Average Joe 23 August, 2022 9:30 pm

Give it automatically to everyone as anyone without heating and hot water would suffer poor health.

Easy fix

Henry Okoi 23 August, 2022 10:11 pm

I thought they wanted to reduce GP bureaucracy?

Marie Williams 24 August, 2022 11:05 am

If the BMA or Royal College Kowtow to this or you personally start doing this you may as well throw the towel in.

Not contracted work not paid.

EDF have said they expect 50% !!!! of households to be in fuel poverty this winter …………………………….

Hot Felon 26 August, 2022 8:58 pm

Share your bath with patients to save water