the national health

CounterPunch sitka at
Fri Aug 13 12:28:19 PDT 1999

[does anyone else remember the great song by the Kinks called National Health, which, among other things, called for subsidized sex and included the classic line on masturbation, "if it's good for your *head*/then it's good for your mi-i-ind! Those days in Britain seem to be long gone.--jsc]

from the BBC online Patients prepared to pay for doctor

Many people are prepared to pay for home visits from GPs

A survey suggests that a third of people would pay for a private doctor to visit them at home - but think that current charges are too high.

HealthWatch magazine questioned 2,000 people about their attitudes to private general practitioners.

Although NHS GPs do offer home visits to those patients who cannot travel into the surgery, the appeal of private on-call doctors is growing, particularly as they will call for even the most trivial problem.

There are currently about 200 GPs in the UK who do only private work, and market analysts suggest the sector is growing.

Walk-in GP centres such Medicentre have sprung up in major railway stations.

Lack of regulation a worry

About 33% of those asked said that they would be prepared to dip into their pockets for a home visit.

But many were worried about the lack of regulation for the private sector.

Complaints about private GPs are not dealt with by the NHS complaints system, although the General Medical Council, which controls the registration of all UK doctors can be brought in if the problem is serious enough.

HealthWhich editor Charlotte Gann said: "Overall, although a home visit from a private doctor may reassure, we are concerned about the lack of regulation.

"Government proposals on private healthcare are encouraging but we are concerned that these particular services have been overlooked and we will be asking them to close this serious regulatory loophole."

No competition for NHS GPs

A spokesman for the British Medical Association said: "These servicesare no competition for the NHS primary healthcare sector, with 35,000 GPs who have the 24-hour reponsibility for their patients."

A spokesman for the Department of Health said that a consulation process on private healthcare regulation would look into the issue.

However, although many people were prepared to pay for private

healthcare, most balked at the fees that GPs-for-hire actually charge.

In reality, the consultation could cost the patient up to £75, and only seven per cent of those surveyed thought that £50 was a reasonable charge.

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