Dr Clare Gerada, Chair of the RCGP, said: “It is good that the Department of Health have commissioned this research. The more clarity we have regarding this issue, the better. However, it is important to remember that many of the statistics in the report are based on approximate figures and should be treated with caution.
“The most important issue continues to be implementation. It is imperative that GPs are not tasked with being a ‘new border agency’ in policing the NHS.
“Limiting access to NHS services will fundamentally change one of the founding principles of general practice – that healthcare is free at the point of need.
“GPs have a duty of care to all people seeking healthcare, and should not be expected to police access to healthcare and turn people away when they are at their most vulnerable.
“The risks to public health that will arise from these proposals are also very real. They will deter people from seeking medical help in the early stages of illness when they can be dealt with cost-effectively and efficiently in primary care, rather than requiring expensive specialist care and increasing admissions to emergency departments.
“GPs are already facing ballooning workloads and a recent RCGP poll has shown that GPs are routinely carrying out up to 60 patient consultations a day, with nearly half saying they can no longer guarantee safe patient care.
“We also strongly oppose the extra administrative responsibilities for GPs and practice staff that would be created as a result of these proposals, which will further impact on all patients.”
RCGP Press office – 020 3188 7574/7575
Out of hours: 0203 188 7659
Notes to editor
The Royal College of General Practitioners is a network of more than 49,000 family doctors working to improve care for patients. We work to encourage and maintain the highest standards of general medical practice and act as the voice of GPs on education, training, research and clinical standards.