Charging patients for appointments 'against founding principle of NHS', says RCGP

Publication date: 23 June 2018

Commenting on an upcoming motion at the BMA's Annual Representative Meeting calling for co-payment by patients for GP appointments, Professor Helen Stokes-Lampard, Chair of the Royal College of GPs, said:

“Charging patients for GP appointments would go against one of the founding principles of the NHS, that care is free at the point of need. It risks deterring patients from seeking medical help in the early stages of illness, when they can be dealt with cost-effectively and efficiently in primary care, rather than requiring expensive specialist care in hospitals, and it is bound to negatively affect our vulnerable patients, who are less able to pay for healthcare, most.

“Charging for appointments would also be considerably more complicated than it sounds – and GP surgeries are simply not equipped to do it. It would heap yet another administrative burden on practices, that we simply don’t need with the workload pressures facing our profession.

“General practice is facing intense resource and workforce pressures at the moment, but charging patients for appointments is not the answer. The Prime Minister, earlier this week, announced an extra £394m a week for the NHS by 2023 – what is important is that additional investment is used to ensure a robust general practice service, so that we don’t even need to consider charging patients for their care, and our service can continue to be the sustainable foundation on which the NHS is built.”

Further Information

RCGP Press office: 020 3188 7633/7574/7575
Out of hours: 0203 188 7659

Notes to editor

The Royal College of General Practitioners is a network of more than 52,000 family doctors working to improve care for patients. We work to encourage and maintain the highest standards of general medical practice and act as the voice of GPs on education, training, research and clinical standards.

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