Nurses to call for GP appointment charges

Patients should be charged for visits to their GP, nurses will argue on Wednesday at the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) Congress in Liverpool.

RCN chief executive Dr Carter: nurses not afraid to have tough debates (Photo: Steffan Hill)
RCN chief executive Dr Carter: nurses not afraid to have tough debates (Photo: Steffan Hill)

Just under a month after GP leaders comprehensively rejected calls to charge for appointments at the 2014 LMCs conference, nurses are reopening the issue.

An RCN statement ahead of a debate on 18 June said: ‘The RCN believes that the NHS should be free at the point of delivery based on clinical need, but our members know that NHS finances are not infinite.

‘GP charges are one of a number of options for the future of the health service.’

LMC leaders last month backed a motion arguing that general practice was ‘unsustainable in its current format’. GPs in favour of charging said a fee for appointments would bring in extra funding to tackle workforce shortages and help ease demand, although LMCs rejected calls for fees.

Fee would undermine trust

GPC chairman Dr Chaand Nagpaul said charging for appointments would undermine trust between patients and doctors.

RCN chief executive and general secretary Dr Peter Carter: ‘Nurses care passionately about the NHS and are not afraid to have difficult debates about its future.

‘GP charging is a controversial topic and one that goes to the heart of the debate about what the NHS is and should be. It’s a brave debate to have and an important one.

‘The political parties need to follow our lead and make it clear now, as we head towards a general election, what their policies are on future NHS funding.’

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