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Private treatment offered to NHS patients

5th October 2011

Evidence has emerged that GPs are telling patients they can pay them to carry out treatments no longer funded by the NHS.

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The Haxby Group Practice in York has written to about 30 patients who were waiting to have minor skin surgery, advising them that if they still wanted it carried out they may have to pay up to £250.

While managers at the practice deny they have done anything wrong, the local Primary Care Trust - NHS North Yorkshire and York - has expressed concerns and is now investigating.

Meanwhile, GP leaders fear the development poses risks of grave conflicts of interest for GPs who may profit personally by suggesting to NHS patients that they can have private treatment, damaging trust in the profession.

The Royal College of GPs was reluctant to comment on specific cases.

But its chairman Dr Clare Gerada said: “The College has been highlighting for many months the issue of the potential for serious conflicts of interest. These conflicts are not caused by GPs being in charge of commissioning, but rather when GPs commission services that they are subsequently paid to provide themselves.”

The BMA also expressed similar concerns.

Dr Richard Vautrey, Deputy Chairman of the BMA's GPs Committee, said: “The last thing any GP wants is to see patient trust damaged. Unfortunately the direction of travel in NHS policy, particularly combined with the financial situation, does increase the risk of conflicts of interest for GPs which is one the reasons the BMA is so concerned about the Health and Social Care Bill.”

 

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