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article imageThink-tank proposes a £20 fee to see your doctor

By Jane Fazackarley     Jul 19, 2009 in Health
Patients in the United Kingdom could face the possibility of being charged a £20 fee to see their doctor. The idea for the charges come from a think -tank.
The Social Market Foundation have come up with the suggestion of charging patients for GP visits in a bid to to help the NHS deal with the financial difficulties it will have to cope with in the near future.
The foundation says that this not go against the core values of the NHS service as charges are already made to those needing dentistry work or prescriptions filled.
But the government and doctors have spoken out saying they are against the plans.
The Social Market Foundation say the NHS is having to deal with a difficult few years ahead.
Funding has been promised to the service up until 2011 but budgets could either be cut of frozen after that.
The think-tank say the NHS will only be able to find the extra funding it needs if taxes are increased, demands on the service are limited or if work is carried out more efficiently.
The health service is currently looking for ways to make spending cuts and at the moment a rise in taxes is not a popular option.
The think- tank think introducing a fee to see your GP would be one way of curbing the demand on the service.
David Furness, who authored the report, said:
"It would get people thinking twice about whether the visit was essential.
"If we don't introduce rationing like this, there will be rationing by stealth through waiting lists, crumbling hospitals and poor quality services."
He said the proposed measures weren't for the purpose of making extra money. Young children and people in receipt of certain benefits would not face charges and nor would there be a charge for emergency care.
Dr Chaand Nagpaul, a member of British Medical Association's GPs committee say they are against the introduction of charges.
"All patients have a right to free healthcare that is based on their clinical needs, not the size of their bank balance.
"I would also be concerned that charging some of my patients to see me would undermine the doctor-patient relationship. Many would be put off coming to their local surgery when they might need care."
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