New rules now apply to private healthcare services provided by GPs, amid the rising fear and blurred lines between work outside NHS and the NHS work.
Several changes have been made to GP contracts. For example, NHS England prohibited the hosting and advertising of GP services from 1st April. The 2019/20 GP contract aims to safeguard the nature of comprehensive NHS primary medical care.
This contract came in place in 2019 and prevents GP providers from directly advertising private GP services that fall under the NHS-funded primary health care. The prohibition also applies to an advertisement by proxy for the stated category of healthcare services. The ban may likely extend to private GP services that cover other NHS main services.
do these changes mean for GPs?
The NHS England ban does not prevent GPs from performing non-NHS work. Different services such as physiotherapy, signing passports, and medical reports for insurance are still vital services provided by private GPs.
The changes prevent private GPs from charging patients for free services under the NHS and scheduling appointments for quick access to a GP. The changes aim to make clear distinctions between services under the NHS and those that require payment by the patient.
Over the years, the demand for private treatments has increased, and reports by The Guardian showed that this increased demand results from cost-saving and cuts by the NHS.
GP access by private providers
Different online private GP services are now available, offering out-of-hours GP access to people via the internet. Most millennials now prefer this mode of GP consultation as they prefer this to wait for a GP appointment. A Practice business report found that one-quarter of patients utilizing online GP consultation platforms are between 20 – 39 years.
The founder of DocTap states that patients no longer desire to wait or travel for an NHS appointment. Most people prefer to see a doctor on their terms and want the freedom of choosing a preferred doctor, hence the rise in private practice patronage.
The NHS system does not favor most persons, especially millennials, who prioritize convenience.
Confidence in GP service
The British Medical Association and the NHS England are trying to ensure patients remain confident on the GP service and know what the private practices can and cannot offer.
The British Medical Association GP committee chairman stated that the BMA represents medical professionals, including private practitioners. However, there are concerns about the increase in difficulty to differentiate between the NHS and private GP service in recent years, especially with the opportunities created by digital technology.
The NHS England's said changes would help clarify the treatments offered by the NHS and services patients need to pay privately.
Indemnity requirement for GPs
The new rules by the NHS England gives a clear difference between private and NHS work. The rules have made known the several non-NHS works that private GPs can perform.
GPs need to bear these new rules in mind and the new indemnity scheme, covering only clinical negligence cases from NHS activities, which means the NHS indemnity scheme does not cover non-NHS work. This makes it important for GP to be members of an MDO.
As a patient seeking healthcare, ensure that when you visit private GP clinic in London, the services you receive from the private practice are not under the NHS primary medical care.