British nurses are planning to debate whether GPs should start charging patients for appointments.
The Royal College of Nursing’s (RCN) annual conference in Liverpool will discuss whether the union backs the idea of charging people a fee to see their family doctors.
Traditionally the RCN has stood behind the belief that the NHS should be free at the point of delivery. But nurses have put forward the motion, saying that NHS finances are “not infinite”.
Andy McGovern, a hospital nurse in London, said he would propose a motion calling for fixed fee to see a GP. Research suggested anything from 57p to £10, he told the Daily Mail. “We need to have a robust and honest debate about what we’re going to do in the future because the money isn’t there,” McGovern said.
There’s two different things here.
One is trying to raise money. And charging for an appointment isn’t going to raise much. For the jobless, pensioners, the pregnant, children and so on aren’t going to get charged. So most of the people who actually use a GP won’t thereby raising little money.
However, we might well want to make sure that people do actually turn up for appointments they’ve made. Which means a charge for missing an appointment but not one for going to one.