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GPs to vote on charging overseas patients for routine appointments

GP leaders will 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.

The motion put forward by East Sussex LMC for the 2016 Local Medical Committees Conference in London this month argues that care at urgent care settings and A&E should be offered as a free ‘alternative’.

This comes after the Department of Health launched a consultation charging foreign visitors for some GP services, such as blood and lung-function tests, but keeping consultations free.

The RCGP has called the proposals ’regressive’ saying they would lead to more deaths.

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.

One motion – which will definitely be debated – seeks to address the additional workload burden thrown up by patients requesting certification for work absences, calling for an extension of national self-certification standard to 14 days.

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 LMCs 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.

Motions in full

EAST SUSSEX: That conference believes that overseas visitors should be able to attend UK general practitioners but:

(i) this should only be on a private fee-paying basis

(ii) any fees paid should be retained in full by the general practice

(iii) it remains open to the government to offer NHS care free to overseas visitors at walk-in-centre, urgent care centres, and accident and emergency departments, and patients can be offered these alternatives.


AGENDA COMMITTEE to be proposed by the Scottish Conference of LMCs: That conference calls for:

(i) an extension of self-certification for illness from 7 to 14 days

(ii) a change in legislation to allow other health care professional such as midwives, allied health professionals and nurse practitioners to complete ‘fit notes’ for patients.