A GP practice in Cumbria has lost around £70,000 of its income from seeing up to 2,500 tourists not registered with the surgery, according to its local MP.
The practice has a patient list between 5,000 and 6,000, but sees an additional 2,000 to 2,500 Lake District tourists, which the surgery received no money for.
The local LMC said the practice had been ‘very viable’, but is now struggling.
Tim Farron, Liberal Democrat MP for Westmorland and Lonsdale, made the comments last month during a Public Bill committee debate in the House of Commons.
He said: ‘I spent part of the break between this morning’s sitting and this one on the phone to a local GP surgery in Cumbria that has lost something like £70,000 of its income in recent years.
‘It has a patient roll of 5,000 to 6,000 people, but it sees on average 2,000 to 2,500 patients every year who are not registered with the surgery – they are visitors coming to the Lake District.
He added: ‘The surgery gets not a penny for that.’
Mr Farron’s office told Pulse they could not give the name of the GP practice.
Peter Higgins, chief executive of Lancashire & Cumbria Consortium of LMCs confirmed Mr Farron’s comments were true.
Mr Higgins said: ‘It was a very viable practice in the Southern lakes in South Cumbria, and it’s struggling at the moment, but we’re trying to find a way to keep it going.’
He told Pulse: ‘If you go away from that single practice, there were quite a few practices in rural areas that are all vulnerable. All it needs is one partner to leave and we’re struggling manpower wise and to fill vacancies.
‘So what we do need is a strategy for not just an individual practice, but across the whole patch as to how we’re going to continue to deliver primary care services there.’
He added: ‘We’re actively working on that with NHS England and the new ICB.’
A spokesperson for Lancashire and South Cumbria ICB told Pulse: ‘In terms of visitors to the Lake District, we are aware of the potential challenges for primary care during peak periods and the NHS does extensive promotion around NHS111 so patients get signposted to the correct service.’
BMA guidance on temporary visitors and tourists said: ‘Anyone, regardless of their country of residence, is entitled to receive NHS primary medical services at a GP practice.
‘This means tourists, or those from abroad visiting friends or family in England, should be treated in the same way as a UK resident.
‘It also means GP practices cannot charge for this.’