RCGP chair says privatisation proposal is “not the answer”

GPs will this week take a vote on the possibility of setting up a private alternative model of healthcare.

A motion is set to be debated by a conference of doctors and follows concerns by industry bodies that the NHS has been pushed to breaking point.

The proposal being put forward calls on the British Medical Association (BMA) to support practitioners who want to charge patient fees.

Those in favour of the arrangement argue that a growing number of surgeries feel they can no longer operate within the constraints of the NHS, given the mounting financial pressures.

The motion, which has been drawn up by the Bedfordshire Local Medical Committee (LMC), urges the issue to be looked at as a matter of urgency.

But the suggestion, which will be discussed this Friday (10 November), has caused consternation among patient groups.

Joyce Robins, from Patient Concern, said there were fears that the introduction of charges would effectively mean that patients pay twice, given that taxpayers’ money helps fund doctors’ training.

“It is very frightening indeed. I absolutely hope this vote doesn’t go through; most elderly patients can’t afford to go private and wouldn’t know where to go for help if their local GP wasn’t there for them,” she added.

Professor Helen Stokes-Lampard, the current chair of the Royal College of GPs (RCGP), said: “The current pressures on GPs are immense and we’re going through the toughest of times, but to consider privatisation of general practice in any shape or form is not the answer.

“We can understand the desperation of GPs, but we must stick together to overcome our current challenges.”

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