The Royal College of GPs (RCGP) has hit out at the government over a consultation on migrant access to healthcare, saying that GPs must not become a “new border agency”.
The government plans to introduce extended charges for migrants and short term visitors, and has released a consultation document to gauge the thinking of stakeholders.
Yet the RCGP has hit out at the proposals, calling them “regressive” and saying they will add to GPs already “unsustainable preassures”.
'Policing the NHS'
Dr Clare Gerada (pictured), Chair of the RCGP, said: “We think that this regressive policy has been prematurely put out to consultation without due consideration of the potential implications.
“As we have said from the outset, GPs must not become 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.
“The implications for public health are very real. This will inevitably 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.
“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 impact on all patients.
“GPs are already working record hours - some making up to 60 patient contacts in a single day - and facing increasing responsibilities which are not being met with sufficient resources.
“These proposals outlined in this consultation would both compound the already unsustainable pressures facing GPs and practice staff and limit the ability of GPs to protect and promote the health of their patients and the public.”
Dr Mark Porter, chair of British Medical Association Council agreed, saying the were “impractical, uneconomic and inefficient.”