Should we be paying to see the GP or to use A&E?

Its a shame such a question even needs to be asked, but as we often hear on the news, the NHS has limited funding and more and more demands on its time and resources…somehow the circle has to be squared, and uncomfortable as it may be, paying for treatment MAY become part of the solution.

From reading the online debate, many Doctors are very uncomfortable with the whole idea, but could possibly see it being more acceptable to charge people who do not show up for their appointments or people who go to A&E who could have treated themselves at home or with the help of their local Pharmacy….

Part of the problem is the huge workload Drs perceive themselves to be under, with many people handing over all responsibility for their health over to the GP. One GP posted on the forum the following point;

“When the NHS was first formed the idea was to give patients freedom from the fear of paying bills but also that free healthcare would reduce illness and therefore demand. It seems that the opposite has happened, certainly in terms of demand. Part of the problem may be the mixed messages that are given out as there are campaigns which advise people to see their GP for things that might seem trivial but could be signs of something more serious such as cancer. On the other hand Doctors do not want people turning up in the surgery because they have a cough or a sore throat”.

With more and more of my patients expressing their dissatisfaction at having to wait 3 or 4 weeks to see ‘their’ GP would they get a better service if they paid? Certainly it is a commonly raised concern that patients may get prescribed a medication that is unsuitable for them because the prescribing Doctor knows nothing about their health history.

I will be watching to see how national healthcare provision develops with interest…perhaps we will get integrated systems involving well trained therapists and the NHS yet!

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