Scottish LMCs: Round-up of decisions

LMCs have urged the Scottish government to consider the side effects of totally abolishing the NHS prescription charge.

There are plans to phase the charges out in Scotland by 2011.

Dr Mary O'Brien from Tayside LMC proposed the motion. 

She said it was likely to result in an increased demand on GP time.

‘Patients are more likely to go for minor ailments if the prescription charge is abolished,' she said. 

As prescription charges bring in £45 million per year to the health service, the change would also mean a loss of income to the NHS, said Dr O'Brien.

‘I don't think the government has considered this. It has created policy on vote-winning tactics,' she said. 

But Dr Stuart Blake of Lothian LMC said it was right that the charges should be scrapped.

‘We have defined the NHS as free at the point of delivery so how can prescription charges fit in with that?' 

Dr John Ip from Greater Glasgow and Clyde LMC added: ‘It's a tax on the sick.'

Joint deputy chairman of SGPC Dr Andrew Buist warned that it was unlikely the Scottish government would reverse the policy. The motion was passed. 

Responsibility for arranging translation services should lie with the patient and not the practice, LMCs have said.

Dr Tyra Hogben from Lanarkshire LMC said there were problems associated with the increasing ethnic diversity. 

Dr John Rankin from Forth Valley LMC said it was not the role of general practice to provide translators

‘They can't expect us to do everything.  We'll do the medical side of things,' he said. 

But Dr Andrew Townsley of Greater Glasgow and Clyde LMC said patients may bring biased interpreters.

‘Their own translator may be a family member or husband, which is not necessarily in the best interest of the patient.' 

Joint deputy chairman of GPC Scotland Dr Stuart Scott said it was impractical to expect patients to arrange their own translators.

‘I don't think practices should fund it but neither should patients. It should be funded by the boards,' he said. 

The motion was passed.

GPs rejected a call to take industrial action in protest of the erosion of the GP contract. 

Dr John Reid of Grampian LMC argued proposed the motion, saying that industrial action would not necessarily affect patient care.

But Dr Barbara West of Greater Glasgow and Clyde LMC disagreed. 

‘It's naïve to think that industrial action would not have an impact on patients,' she said.

Chairman of GPC Scotland Dean Marshall said he was disappointed that morale was so low in Scotland that doctors felt they had to discuss industrial action. 

GPs passed a vote of no confidence in the UK government and its stewardship of the NHS.

GPC Scotland chairman Dr Dean Marshall said that this reflected the mood of GPs across Scotland, 96 per cent of whom said the same in a poll last month. 

He said the SNP government lacked the will and confidence to distance itself from the political agenda in England.

‘It's easy for the SNP to say they are going to work with the profession,' he said.

But he said this had not happened so far. 

‘They have stuck with Gordon Brown's policy because they're not bold enough to implement their own,' said Dr Marshall.

GPletters@haymarket.com

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