Editorial Comment

££ – General Practice Always Under Fire – ££

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Over the last few years the British Press has continued to take a relentless swipe at the NHS and General Practice in particular. Whilst there is no smoke without fire a lot can be blamed on the former Labour government and the 2004 contract.

Now one Labour Peer, Robert Winston thinks that Patients should be charged £200 per annum to see their GP so they ‘learn to appreciate the Patients should be charged £200 to see their GP so they ‘learn to appreciate the NHS’

Curiously, if every patient paid £7 per month a doctors NHS income would remain very similar to what it is now. So to suggest £200 smells of serious profiteering as there is no guarantee that surplus founds would be paid back into the provision of better services. The NHS would still need to fund premises and new initiatives. I recall one doctor in a West Midlands surgery who refused to accept the male head of a household on his list as an NHS patient but did accept that person privately I think at the time for an annual fee of £10. This was 40 years ago. At the time there was nothing to preclude refusing to accept a patient in this way in NHS Regulations. Nowadays even to remove a patient from a list causes quite a stir. Despite Open Lists patients living in nursing homes are shoved form pillar to post.

The idea of charging was only alien to the New NHS for a few years after 1948 – now the dental and ophthalmic service are almost at cost and the pharmaceutical service might soon reach a £10 prescription charge certainly in my lifetime. Hospitals are being asked to levy parking charges more fairly. Those attending outpatient appointments or visiting long term inpatients should never be expected to pay parking charges. Why one wonders have NHS managers not considered the appalling effect car parking charges has on people visiting a hospital and not knowing wht time they would expect to leave the hospital. The NHS has been asked to put this right.

There are still hidden charges already with telephone lines in use that offer a payback to Practices but charge callers higher rates. What evidence is there that the payback to practices is reinvested in the Practice.

The NHS is riddled with charging systems. Nothing is ever free. Nothing paid for comes without consequences. If patient’s paid for consultations, home visits as well as their drugs they would rightly expect a quality service. There would need to be value for money. No waiting a week for an appointment. A proper complaints system would need to be in place. An independent complaints investigation system would need to be in place.

Robert Campbell is a retired Practice Manager offering comments, information and advice to Practice Managers and their staff.

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Robert Campbell

By Robert Campbell<br><img src="" alt="Robert Campbell" class="avatar" width='50' height='50'/>

Started work writing medical cards in 1966 at Staffordshire Executive Council. Have worked at Inner London Executive Council, Hertfordshire Executive Council, Lambeth Southwark and Lewisham FPC, Birmingham FPC, Dudley FPC and Wakefield FPC and Family Health Services Authority. I was seconded to the NHS Appeals Unit and have worked as a full time GP practice manager since 1992 until 2010. I was also an AMSPAR trainer at Park Lane College, Leeds. Now I work as a freelance author.

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