Hard-up practices wanted to ‘throw in the towel and betray NHS principles’
DOCTORS voted yesterday against proposals to charge NHS patients to use GP surgeries.
GPs from across England rejected a proposal calling for the British Medical Association (BMA) to back cash-strapped practices in going private.
The motion, debated at the association’s first ever England local medical committees (LMCs) conference, claimed that “a number of GPs feel that they can no longer operate within the NHS.”
It called on the BMA GP committee England to “urgently look at how these GPs can be supported to operate within a private, alternative model.”
Proposing the motion, Dr Christiane Harris from Bedfordshire LMC said GPs feel like they are on a “hamster wheel” and that practices that want to “explore a future outside the NHS” should be supported by the GP committee in doing so.
But Dr Jackie Applebee, from Tower Hamlets LMC, urged delegates to not “throw in the towel” by voting the motion through.
She argued it would be a “betrayal” of NHS principles.
GP committee deputy chair Dr Mark Sanford-Wood said the motion did not call on practices in general to start charging for services, just that BMA should support practices that choose to make this move.
But he added: “I must ask conference in view of the message … that this will send out, that you vote against this motion.”
Before the conference, Doctors for the NHS (DFNHS) stood squarely against the motion.
DFNHS member and Lancashire GP Dr David Wrigley said: “I’m 100 per cent committed to the founding principles of the NHS and how that relates to general practice — free at the point of use, funded from general taxation with no private companies involved who cream off profits for their shareholders.”
DFNHS chair and consultant haematologist Dr Eric Watts said in a statement that he understands the “frustrations” of some doctors but that evidence shows that private GP services are more expensive to operate and will result in a “reduced service for the most in need.”
He added: “That, in turn, will mean delays in diagnosis and treatment and more ill patients with more severe illnesses.
“The NHS was founded to improve the health of the nation from the pre-existing private services. DFNHS stands firmly against any move which undermines these principles.”