LMC Conference 2014: Campaigners warn against GP appointment charge

GP representatives were greeted by campaigners urging them to reject calls for appointment charges as they arrived for the annual LMC conference in York this morning.

LMC protest against appointment fees (Photo: Pete Hill)
LMC protest against appointment fees (Photo: Pete Hill)

Local people from the York Defend the NHS, Keep Our NHS Public and the People’s Assembly were protesting against proposals to be debated later today to support charges for some GP services.

A motion to be debated this afternoon, proposed by Wiltshire LMC, says it is 'no longer viable for general practice to provide all patients with all NHS services free at the point of delivery'. It drew sharp criticism within hours of the publication of the agenda document.

Read more: Why the GP proposing appointment fees thinks they could restore patients' trust

Gwen Vardigans from Defend the NHS told GP she was campaigning to keep the health service public and free.

'We are protesting against the possibility that there will be appointment charges and cancellation charges in GP.'

She said GPs should be able to tell patients the cost of their treatment to discourage misuse and that tax should be increased on the rich to properly fund the NHS.

Fees are thin end of the wedge

'Once you start changing for the NHS, it's the thin end of the wedge,' she said.

Graham Martin from York People's Assembly said it was 'dangerous to put the idea on the table' of charges as it could have public health implications, putting sick people off going to their GP, leading to increased pressure on expensive urgent care services.

'We are also here to make a broader point about the need to widen funding and look at things like tax avoidance which if we resolve we wouldn't be having this debate today.'

Campaigners said they had had a positive response from LMC representatives and that none had said they supported charges.

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