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Health chief plans GP snub' charges

PUBLISHED: 16:22 23 April 2008 | UPDATED: 14:42 25 August 2010

PROPOSALS: Lord Ara Darzi’s plans have come under much scrutiny.

PROPOSALS: Lord Ara Darzi's plans have come under much scrutiny.

GPs could be charged if their patients choose to go to accident and emergency units when they could be treated at their nearest surgery.

GPs could be charged if their patients choose to go to accident and emergency units when they could be treated at their nearest surgery.

The proposal, being considered by the Department of Health, is another of Lord Ara Darzi's ideas, as part of his 'next steps' National Health Service (NHS) review, due to be published in the summer.

Geoff Martin, head of campaigns at London Health Emergency, said: "We should encourage people to go to their GPs as much as possible. This does seem a form of punishment.

"It is going to be really bureaucratic to actually collect all those charges.

"There should be more cooperation between GPs and accident and emergency departments rather than this big stick approach.

"It is going to make it very difficult to have good quality healthcare as more pressure is being piled on GPs.

"I think we are going to end up with GPs carrying the can for the failure to plan proper accident and emergency services because of the ridiculous proposal to close the Accident and Emergency department at Sidcup."

The Department of Health confirmed last Wednesday that it had commissioned the NHS Confederation and NHS Employers to examine how a tariff, or fixed price, might be introduced for visits to walk-in centres, minor injury units, and for treating temporary residents.

The move is aimed at giving GPs an incentive to provide longer opening hours while reducing inappropriate use of casualty and minor injury departments.

A spokesperson from the Department of Health said: "The Department has commissioned NHS Employers and NHS Confederation to undertake a piece of work looking into the issue of a tariff for walk-in centres, minor injuries units and temporary residents.

"This report has now been received and the Department of Health will consider its findings.

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