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Thursday, 20 November 2014

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Idea to make A&E time-wasters pay ‘a knee-jerk reaction’ - Barrow GP

A BARROW GP says he is against suggestions made by one in three UK doctors that time-wasters should be charged up to £10 for visiting A&E as a way of ending the emergency care crisis.

Some 39 per cent of them also said putting an extended-hours GP surgery next to hospitals would massively cut admissions.

Lead commissioning GP for Furness, Dr Geoff Jolliffe, said it was simply a knee-jerk reaction.

The majority of general practitioners also questioned whether government changes to GPcontracts would alleviate A&E issues, with 74 per cent disagreeing that giving the elderly a named GP would help.

Dr Tim Ringrose, chief executive of Doctors.net.uk, said: “It is not surprising many GPs believe people who abuse the system should be hit in the pocket.

“It may be a clear departure from the traditional NHS vision, but many doctors are now saying that radical action has to be taken to reverse the ‘free at the point of abuse’ culture that is a key contributor to the current emergency care crisis in some areas.”

Those GPs in favour of bringing in A&E fees said charging patients £5 to £10 for each visit would reduce admissions at “the drop of a hat”.

Such charges would then be refunded if the visit was deemed necessary.

Dr Jolliffe said: “I just don't think this is going to happen. There is immense pressure in the system around urgent care, not just A&E, but also ambulance services and general practice. This suggestion, like the recent suggestion to charge for consultations on general practice, is a knee jerk-reaction in an attempt to solve this problem.

“We believe in Furness that what we need to do is understand why this pressure has built up and work with the public to develop ways of relieving the pressure.

“There is no doubt we need to work differently and also the public need to use the services differently and most importantly, we need some sensible support for this nationally.”

The Department of Health said there were no plans to introduce fees because such a move “goes against the founding principles of the NHS”.

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