Paying for GP services

Posted on August 4th, by geoff in CT blog. Comments Off on Paying for GP services

By guest blogger Leon Smith

The Royal College of GPs tells us that “one in nine people trying to see a GP cannot get an appointment, with doctors turning away their patients (at a rate of) more than 40,000,000 a year”.

This is a truly staggering and frightening figure. But there’s one further element not referred to which makes the situation even worse. There are in England 20,000 registered care homes for older people. A very significant proportion of these homes have to pay their local GPs simply to turn up and give medical attention to their residents.

It is a truism to say that all UK citizens are entitled to free medical care – that’s at the very heart of our National Health Service. Yet the reality is that frail, immobile, vulnerable adults in care homes theoretically would have no medical attention if it were not for the proprietor of those homes paying GPs simply to provide a service which is already theirs by right. The Royal Society figures do not tell the whole story.

What is the alternative? Older people in care homes cannot use either walk-in clinics or telephone helplines, simply because they are physically unable to do so. The Government needs to recognise this harsh reality. If the 36,000 GPs in England cannot cope with their workload, then surely this must be the responsibility of successive governments.

What are we doing today to ensure that there are sufficient students going through medical school so that this problem can be addressed? The number of older people is going to increase, not reduce, and this problem is not going to go away. An urgent rethink is needed before this crisis turns into total meltdown.

  • The CT Blog is written in a personal capacity – comments and opinions expressed are not necessarily endorsed or supported by Caring Times.

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