BMA calls for Royal Commission to review co-payments

A Royal Commission should be set up to review the evidence for co-payments, according to the Annual Representatives Meeting (ARM) of the BMA in Edinburgh.

Dr Hamish Meldrum
Dr Hamish Meldrum

Doctors yesterday stopped short of demanding the introduction of co-payments.

BMA chairman Dr Hamish Meldrum said: ‘In principle doctors believe that patients should have the choice to buy additional treatment that is not available on the NHS, without being forced to pay for all their treatment privately.

‘However, they stopped short of asking for co-payments to be introduced until there has been a wider debate with the profession and public and the evidence has been collected and examined.’

The call has been welcomed by the Liberal Democrats.

Norman Lamb, the Lib Dem shadow health secretary, said: ‘The decision by the BMA to support the principle of top-ups is an important step forward.

‘However, it is vital that the issue of top-ups does not get booted into the long grass. This situation needs urgent attention.
‘The current rules which force doctors to withdraw treatment, even when the patient is following their advice, are unfair and unjust.’

Health secretary Alan Johnson instigated a review of co-payments last month.

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