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One in four patients willing to pay towards GP appointments

Almost a quarter of British people would be willing to pay for GP appointments, with the public more willing to pay for services such as physiotherapy and home support, a YouGov poll has shown.

The Everyday Health Tracker, which regularly surveys up to 2,000 UK adults, found that 24% of respondents were willing to pay part of the cost towards visiting their GP.

Those in higher managerial positions were somewhat more likely to be willing to do so, at 26%, compared with 20% of those in education or on lower income jobs.

Over half (56%) of respondents to the survey said they believe that ‘the NHS can’t to everything’ to cover all areas of healthcare in future, with people expressing an even stronger willingness towards financing their own physiotherapy (51%), chiropody (50%) or home support and rehabilitation (45%) services.

Further, over a third (36%) said they would be willing to pay a fee for accessing counselling or mental health talking therapies.

Commenting on the findings, YouGov Reports associate director Tom Rees said: ’The debate around GP waiting times and seven-day service is one that continues to divide opinion. For many, the NHS should be free at the point of service, and paying for GPs is simply not an option.

’For others, it seems as though they would be willing to share some of the financial burden. With the financial pressures facing the health service it may only be a matter of time before radical approaches have to be considered. Whether these would be politically viable is another matter.’

A Pulse survey last year found that half of GPs would support charges for routine appointments, with separate surveys finding that average waiting times for an appointment are likely to reach two weeks by next year.

However, leaders of the profession have refused to back suggestions for patient co-payments.

Think-tank the King’s Fund has suggested patients should be charged for missing appointments that they have booked with their practice, while a report by think-tank Reform found in 2013 that introducing a £10 charge per GP appointment would raise the NHS in England £1.2bn annually.