- Family doctors insist charging patients is the only way to end the GP crisis
- GPs are leaving in droves, and patients are having to wait weeks to see a doctor
- The move would no longer make the NHS free at the point of delivery
GPs will this week demand that NHS patients must pay for routine appointments, The Mail on Sunday can reveal.
Leading family doctors from across Britain will insist that charging patients for consultations is the only way to end the crisis in general practice – recently described by the British Medical Association as being ‘at breaking point’.
Desperate patients now routinely have to wait three weeks to see their doctor, while surgeries are struggling to recruit as GPs leave in droves.
The British Medical Association said charging patients for consultation was the only way to end the crisis in general practice
The radical move, which would end the principle of an NHS free at the point of delivery, will be discussed at a major BMA conference in Edinburgh on Thursday.
Those behind the proposal argue charging for appointments will raise millions for the NHS – and discourage people with minor ailments from clogging up GP surgeries.
But opponents say charges will put the poor at greater risk of serious problems such as cancer going undetected.
And despite the stress of the job, about half of England’s 7,600 surgeries close at least once during the week, while The Mail on Sunday has previously found GPs ‘moonlighting’ by carrying out private work on evenings and weekends.