A national poll in which half of doctors called for a charge to be introduced for appointments has been described as a “death sentence for poor people”.
Half of GPs are in favour of the NHS charging up to £25 for routine appointments, according to a survey.
Many believe putting a price tag on face-to-face consultations is the only way to manage the increasing workload and rising patient demand, said health magazine Pulse.
In a poll of 440 GPs by the magazine, 51 per cent said they would support imposing a small fee to visit a GP, compared with 36 per cent who would not. Last year a similar poll found only a third of GPs would support the move, suggesting a growing number are willing to consider drastic solutions to reduce their workload. Demand for routine appointments is likely to double in the next two decades, according to a report published last year by the Deloitte Centre for Health Solutions.
The Spalding Guardian asked readers on its Facebook page if they would consider paying for appointments.
More than 40 responded with the majority horrified at the thought.
Tracie Jenning said: “If people have to pay to see a doctor this could really hamper early diagnosis of possible terminal illnesses.
“It would mean death sentences for poor people.”
Nigel Campbell said: “If you earn minimum wage it will be a choice of doctor or food and bills.
“We have paid into the NHS for years so are entitled to it, or a refund in our NI payments”
But some readers could see why doctors supported the introduction of a charge.
Michelle Gilbert said: “I have to go to the doctors every three months for a check-up for my thyroids. How can they justify me paying for each visit? They ought to charge the people that fail to turn up for appointments.
“I have just put my repeat prescription in and a notice says 199 missed appointments, which totals to 33 lost GP hours. So who is to blame?”
Jackie Hollingsworth said: “I definitely think there should be a charge for missed appointments.
“It does list in my local surgery just how many there are each month and it’s ridiculous given how hard it can be to be seen by a GP.”
The Spalding Guardian requested a response from the Munroe and Beechfield medical centres but at the time of going to press no representative was available for comment.