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Darzi looks at double payment issue

The Health Minister is looking at plans to stop the NHS paying twice for patients who use A&E services when they could be visiting their GP.

Currently GPs are paid an annual fee for providing for patients’ primary care needs. However when patients choose to use an A&E department instead of going to the GP surgery, the hospital is entitled to charge the NHS.

According to the Health Service Journal the cost to the NHS of 14 million unnecessary visits to A&E departments was £940 million.

Lord Darzi is studying NHS Confederation proposals that recommends a system of “cross-charging” to allow hospitals to charge GP practices when their patients receive primary care services elsewhere.

According to a report in Health Service Journal, the annual cost to the NHS of 14 million visits to A&E departments, walk-in centres and minor injury clinics that did not result in a patient being admitted to hospital has been put at £940 million a year.

A department spokesman said: “We commissioned NHS Employers and the NHS Confederation to undertake a piece of work looking into the issue of a tariff for walk-in centres, minor injuries units and temporary residents. This report has now been received and the department will consider its findings.”

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Your comments: (Terms and conditions apply)

“How ridiculous! The government provided walk-in centres, etc, to relieve GPs and A&E. GPs get £64 per patient per year for providing medical sevices/premises/stall reception/nurses and doctors. How much do they intend to remove as each visit to a walk-in centre or call to NHS direct costs about £26? GPs are much better value for money.” – R Lawrence, West Byfleet, UK

“We get paid less than £60 per year per patient to offer unlimited access to our surgery services. Our local A&E charges £75 per visit (tariff price in PBC setting). One visit would mean we are left with -£19 per year for any one patient. Totally unworkable. Utter nonsense. Another push for GPs to leave the NHS entirely.” – B Compitus, Bristol, UK

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