Dr Helen Stokes-Lampard, spokesperson for the Royal College of General Practitioners (RCGP) and a GP in Lichfield, said:
“The overwhelming majority of GPs still respect the founding principle of the NHS: that healthcare should be provided free at the point of need.
“Charging patients for the use of emergency departments would put us on the slippery slope towards the Americanisation of healthcare – where only those who can afford it get the care and attention they need.
“Doctors have a duty to provide healthcare to patients regardless of their ability to pay. Patients seek healthcare when they are at their most vulnerable and if they attend A&E, it is usually because they don’t know where else to turn.
“Emergency departments are really struggling but the way to solve the crisis is to adequately fund general practice, so that family doctors can provide more care for patients in the community.
“GPs conduct 90% of the NHS contacts for just 8.39% of the NHS budget. If general practice was better funded many people who are seen in emergency departments could be seen by a local GP.”
RCGP Press office – 020 3188 7574/7575/7581
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.