Government must cut patient demand for NHS to survive

The government must reduce public demands on services or the NHS may not survive, the chairman of the Conservative Medical Society has warned.

Dr Charlson: growing patient demands on NHS services was the ‘real issue’

Talking to GP, Dr Paul Charlson said the NHS should look to reduce patient expectations on services, rather than focusing on slimming down the supply side of the NHS.

He also called for the government to be more explicit about what services are available on the NHS and for whom it would provide treatment.

Dr Charlson said that growing patient demands on NHS services was the ‘real issue’ that needs to be addressed. 

He warned that the supply side in the NHS ‘can only be made so lean’ and said focus should instead move towards changing patients’ ‘health seeking behaviours’. 

Dr Charlson said: ‘The elephant in the room is why the cost of healthcare has gone up and why people are consulting GPs more.

‘Part of it is because patients have better access to information. But, part is of it also to do with people demanding care they want, but don’t actually need and clinicians are often too scared to say no.’   He suggested that patients need incentives to use services more effectively, such as through the use of personal budgets.

Dr Charlson said that he was ‘unsure how the NHS would survive’ if the demand side of NHS was not tackled. He also said co-payments, where patients pay for extra treatment in addition to the services provided to them on the NHS, could also be used as a way of saving money in the NHS.

Editor's blog: No GP rationing but is this hello to patient budgets and co-payments?

Have you registered with us yet?

Register now to enjoy more articles and free email bulletins


Already registered?

Sign in

Just published

Practice nurse with patient

Patient safety fears as one in three practice nurses near retirement

General practice is facing a nurse retirement timebomb, with more than a third of...

A&E entrance

Hospitals warn of rising flu admissions and A&E pressures

Hospitals in England have warned that the number of patients being admitted for flu...

Woman on a phone call while using a computer

How the GMC's updated Good Medical Practice applies in real life

MDU medico-legal adviser Dr Ellie Mein looks at how the GMC’s updated guidance would...

Talking General Practice logo

Podcast: Where next for the GP contract, plus Labour’s plan for neighbourhood health centres

Talking General Practice looks at what the BMA's might be looking to achieve in negotiations...


More than 2,000 GP practices switch to registering patients online

More than 2,000 GP practices have signed up to accept patient registrations via an...

Police car

One in eight GPs forced to call police over abusive patients

One in eight GPs have had to call the police to handle an abusive patient in the...