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MPs to debate bill allowing GPs to charge patients for appointments

MPs are to debate a private members bill next month that would allow GPs to charge patients for appointments.

Christopher Chope, MP for Christchurch, first put forward the National Health Service (co-funding and co-payment) bill in September 2017, which aims to ‘make provision for co-funding and for the extension of co-payment for NHS services in England; and for connected purposes’.

Mr Chope has long campaigned against the use of private members bills to pass laws and previously came under fire for being the only MP to block a bill that would ban ‘upskirting’ – the practise of photographing up a woman’s skirt.

But under his private members bill, the National Health Service Act 2006 would be amended to include: ‘For the purposes of this act, co-funding of NHS care shall be permissible in England when NHS-commissioned care is proposed to be partly funded— (a) by a patient, or (b) on behalf of a patient.’ 

Leading GPs have previously deemed co-payments ‘a tax on sickness’ and ‘clearly not right’, with doctors rejecting a motion proposed at the BMA’s Annual Representative Meeting earlier this year, which considered charging patients for GP appointments to fund the NHS.

However, a Pulse survey revealed that 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.

Meanwhile, a YouGov poll of 2,000 UK adults in 2015 found that almost one in four British people is willing to pay for GP appointments.

The private members bill is expected to have its second reading on 26 October 2018.