Virgin amends its profit plans

Virgin Healthcare has abandoned a plan under which GPs could be paid for referring NHS patients to private Virgin services.

GPs who sign up with Virgin will remain independent contractors, but will work within a Virgin-branded health centre offering services such as dentistry and physiotherapy. The company had said that practice income would include a share of the entire centre's profit.

But the BMA warned the plan would damage clinical objectivity, because GPs would have a financial incentive to direct patients to other services within the centre.

Virgin has now altered its model, so that only profits from patients not on the practice's list will count towards the profit share. A spokeswoman said this had been done after consulting the GMC, in order to 'avert any conflict of interest'.

GPC negotiator Dr Chaand Nagpaul welcomed the decision. But he warned that: 'This is a reflection of how unaware the commercial sector is of the ethics that are central to the NHS.'

jonn.elledge@haymarket.com

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