Private GP services could fill NHS gaps

GPs should be allowed to offer privately any services that PCTs are not willing or able to fund as NHS services, LMCs believe.

Representatives at the 2007 LMCs conference backed a motion demanding that the GPC negotiate a package with the DoH to allow practices to 'provide services privately to those registered with them' if PCTs will not pay.

City and East London LMC member Dr Kambiz Boomla said that at a time when NHS expenditure had more than doubled in the last decade there was a risk that patients would take a dim view of GPs demanding more opportunities to earn money.

'I don't think the public will tolerate GPs on six-figure salaries charging to see them out-of-hours,' he said. 'We should not leave ourselves open to the claim that we are greedy doctors on 100,000 plus salaries.'

But North Essex LMC member Dr Richard Wright said there was a danger private firms would fill the gap: 'To refuse to fund a service that we could provide and that the patient needs, and then to refuse to allow us to provide it privately is asset stripping. Private providers will see it as a great opportunity and hoover it up.'

GPC member Dr John Canning added: 'When the NHS has decided not to fund something, there should be the opportunity for patients to secure the service from their GPs outside the NHS.'

A GP newspaper survey this week found that 94.7 per cent of GPs wanted to be able to offer services privately if the NHS would not pay for them.

nick.bostock@haymarket.com

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