Right for GP’s to Offer Private Services to Their NHS Patients
The New Forest Central Medical Group has taken its first steps into challenging the GMS contract rules that stop’s practices from offering GP services privately to patients on their own lists.
The argument is being championed by a qualified GP and Lawyer Dr Mathew Davies, who believes that general practice could go under unless if it doesn’t diversify its funding. He also believes that successfully challenging the GMS contract would enable GP’s to offer private services over and above those offered by the NHS to our own patients, increasing patient choice and also increasing practice funding so as to subsidise NHS provision of general practice.
Challenging the GMS Contract
The challenge from New Forest Central Group could put GPs in the same position as NHS consultants, dentists or pharmacists who can charge their NHS patients for treatments over and above those provided by the National Health Service.
The challenge comes to part 19 of the standard GMS contract (Fees and Charges) which includes but is not limited to:
“The Contractor must not, either itself or through any other person, demand or accept from any of its patients a fee or other remuneration for its own benefit or for the benefit of another person in respect of:
(a) the provision of any treatment whether under the Contract or otherwise, or
(b) a prescription or repeatable prescription for any drug, medicine or appliance,”
Although GP’s are currently allowed to offer services privately, they are not allowed to do so to patients that are on their registered practice list. Meaning patients must be sent elsewhere for treatments such as private vaccinations or cosmetic procedures as a few examples.
There has been voiced support from the GPC chair Dr Richard Vautrey who said:
“We believe that GPs should be able to provide minor treatments and procedures that are not available through the NHS and therefore reducing the need for patients to seek expensive private hospital procedures. It would be reasonable to expect that patients would want to be able to get this service from their practice, from GPs they know, rather than having to be referred elsewhere.”
“Any change must not compromise the care available to all patients, free at the point of delivery within the NHS contract.”
BMA Law is a law firm set up to offer expert legal medical advice to doctors. They have taken on the case and will have four key arguments that may include questions like:
- Whether GP’s should be able to operate privately outside of core hours
- Especially in rural areas that are most affected by the restrictions of part 19 of the GMS
- restrictions on additional GP services could be classed as a ‘restraint of trade’
To cover legal fees, Dr Davies has set up a crowdfunding page which has raised £3,400 of a £5,000 target in just a matter of days.