£20 to see GP in evening4th June 2007
A group of GPs have said patients who wish to visit their GP for a routine appointment in the evening or weekend should be charged.
The family doctors will put forward the motion at a British Medical Association GP's conference. The motion says: "Resources for routine care outside core hours should be partially or wholly provided by a fee charged to the patient." It will be discussed later in June.
The group said patients using surgeries after hours usually had jobs and would have the means to pay for the service. They have proposed a fee of between £15 and £20. This charge would be made only to advance-booked routine appointments and would not apply to out-of-hours emergencies.
The idea has provoked fierce criticism from patients' rights groups. Michael Summers, of the Patients Association, said: "It is a scandal and wouldn't be tolerated in any other country."
A Department of Health spokeswoman said: "We will never change the values of the NHS - universal, tax funded, free at the point of need. Let's be clear - nobody should have to pay for these services."
Doctors have been attacked for their high rates of pay following the new GP contract, which began in 2004. During the first year of the contract, doctors' average earnings rose by a third and topped £100,000.
Dr Hamish Meldrum, chairman of the BMA's GPs committee, said the proposal did not reflect their views: "BMA policy is against patient charging."
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Title: £20 to see GP in evening
Author: Jess Laurence
Article Id: 3022
Date Added: 4th Jun 2007