Anger at plans for GPs to 'police' travel passes

Council asks GPs to report on patients without their consent, and perform regular reviews.

GPs in London have expressed anger at council plans to make them responsible for revoking patients' travel passes.

GPs in Kensington and Chelsea have been asked by council officials to review patients with mental health conditions and disabilities every two to five years, and inform the council when they are no longer eligible for a Freedom Pass.

Dr Bradley Pearl, from the Foreland Medical Centre said Kensington and Chelsea Council's demands were 'outrageous'.

'We normally provide information to the council when it requests it with the consent of the patient, but this time it is asking for more from GPs.

'It goes further than stating a person's illness; it asks us to contact them when we think they are no longer eligible, without their express consent.

'It's outrageous. It invades patient confidentiality and asks GPs to police these travel cards.'

A letter sent to practices by Kensington and Chelsea Council, seen by GP, states: 'You agree to review the applicant's continued eligibility at specific times ... if it becomes clear that their condition has improved it is the responsible clinician's duty to notify the local authority.' GPs have been asked to sign the letter.

But Dr Pearl said it was straying out of GPs' remit as medical professionals to police travel passes.

'It is our job to inform the DVLA when drivers are a danger because the risk outweighs the need for confidentiality.

But this is providing information to the council presumably to save them money.'

The council's letter stated that practices would not receive any money for filling in the forms, which staff at Dr Pearl's practice are refusing to use.

Dr Jane Pettifer, vice-chairman of Kensington and Chelsea LMC, agreed that the decision to remove a travel pass was not the job of a GP.

A council spokesman said: 'It is only when a GP is the only person treating a patient that a GP will need to complete a small section of a form.' This would need to be done every two to four years.

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