The Sacred Cow

The BMA has knocked the concept of charging for a GP appointment on the head. I pay to see my NHS dentist and he delivers pain. I don’t like it, (the cost I mean) but it is a fact of life, so I accept it. If he had decent premises rather than an old terraced house with ultra-steep stairs and vortex-inducing 180 degree turns in the narrow corridors then I could understand where the fee goes to. I know where he lives though.

Not even the catfish gawking at me from the tank 6 inches from my ear calms me enough to smile as I shell out another £50 for 20 minutes of inversion in a chair and a needle in the gums, and a drill bit followed by a wave of a polishing brush covered in Colgate somewhere in the vicinity of my nose.

Just think. £10 per patient appointment gives an individual GP who sees 40 patients a day well over £100,000 a year, extra, for his practice. If an average practice has 5 or 6 FTE GPs then that’s a cool half-million practice income. Solving the cash crisis at a stroke. OK, so it comes with rules, and probably charging exemptions for chronic conditions etc, with some admin, but who cares? It isn’t the GP who does that, and it would be self-funding.

It would do wonders for your DNA rate. If the BMA don’t like it that’s fine. Just let the government give the freedom to the practices who want to charge, to charge. Those who don’t want to, well that’s fine as well. It’s about free choice and open market.

What will result is a degree of patient migration. Suits me. It gives another level of patient choice.

Non-charging doctors can inherit those who are not prepared to pay and who are happy with the service the non-charging practice provides.  They may be the grumpy end of the spectrum, as the exempt patients will stay put.

In charging practices the extra money generated will solve the crisis, make the practice more stable and viable, fund additional doctors and nurses, more appointments, and services, and make the practice a better place for a patient to visit. It may even provide new buildings. It would certainly bring GPs on a level with dental counterparts.  It could mean the end of the terraced house, and fish tanks. Got to be worth it.


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