Sunday 18 January 2015 10.32am
Sorry, but you are not entirely correct, and I'd like to reply to your comments one by one:
GP practices are extremely lax in not checking new patients' eligibility to access free NHS services - i.e. the only requirement is for the new patient to provide an address in the catchment area of the surgery - but they never check the residence or immigration status of the patient - as they are required to by the Department of Health Regulations.
- You are simply wrong. GP treatment is free to all those resident in the UK (i.e not just tourists). Hospitals are required to check entitlement to secondary care. Look here:
We can only check an address, anything else is discriminatory.
The other aspect is that GP's surgeries are run as taxpayer-funded businesses, where the GP Partners can take out profit. Despite complaining endlessly about the Coalition Government's policy on the NHS, interestingly, GPS are very happy to quietly take profit out of their surgery businesses. The more patients you register - then obviously the more funding the surgery can claim.
- Practices are small businesses that fund themselves by a variety of NHS and non-NHS work (medicals, insurance forms, occupational health services, travel etc). Don't blame the GPs for how the NHS was set up in 1947. The NHS services are paid for in a hugely complex mix of baseline, fees and targets that changes every year. If you don't provide the service, you don't get paid.
GPs earn at least six-figure salaries and generous final salary pensions.
- GPs have NEVER had a final salary pension. Unlike hospital staff their pension is a career average, and always has been.
- As for salaries, you need to match like for like. From the oft quoted 'six figure +' (Daily Mail etc), you can deduct: Employers and employee national insurance (28%), Medical indemnity (£7-9k) and a whole raft of other compulsory professional expenses. It is true that there is a wide variation in practice earnings, but GP earnings are not in excess of hospital consultants and probably behind many similarly qualified professions (especially in London).
But don't just take it from me - Andy Burnham, Labour's Shadow Health Secretary has acknowledged publicly that the GP's contract negotiated under Blair's Government was a mistake here.
- It is true that GP income went up a lot under this contract, but so did workload. GPs as a whole massively 'over performed' on DOH expectations. Since then average GP income has declined by 30% and those who have tried to maintain incomes have had to work 12hr+ days to do so.
I'm not complaining, its a hugely rewarding, but very high demand and high risk job. However, I do think its important to put the record straight. GPs are actually the core of the NHS. It is the judgements we take about diagnosis and the daily negotiation with patients about their care that enables the NHS to provide efficient and effective care. Without GPs the system would collapse and we would end up with a US-style expensive care for a few. Some politicians and their wealthy backers and media barons would like this, so don't believe all the rubbish you read in the Daily Mail.....