GPs and local residents join hands to stop the closure of GP surgeries in a demonstration in Rugby
GPs and local residents join hands to stop the closure of GP surgeries in a demonstration in Rugby

THE chairman of the BMA’s GP committee has warned that the Tory-LibDem government’s health plans will leave poor, elderly, infirm and terminally ill patients out, while the wealthy will be able to ‘shop around’ and demand the ‘right’ to see the doctor of their choice.

The British Medical Association’s Laurence Buckman said that under the plans contained in the Health Bill, patients will become ‘internal medical tourists’.

They will flit between doctors in search of new drugs and treatments in a system where the affluent will profit at the expense of the poor.

Dr Buckman said: ‘I can see richer, healthy patients moving backwards and forwards in search of GPs that prescribe Herceptin for example.

‘This is the creation of internal medical tourism.

‘But the older, sicker and poorer patients are not going to be able to register 40 miles away.’

Currently patients can only sign up with a General Practitioner within defined boundaries close to their home.

Buckman continued: ‘Once this is gone, I cannot see how doctors will fulfil their moral and contractual obligation to visit sick patients in their own homes.

‘It will become impossible.

‘If a patient who is dying cannot see their doctor, then what sort of NHS are we getting?’

Dr Buckman warned that the scramble for patients could lead to GPs overspending and being taken over by multinationals.

‘We will quite quickly see failed consortia bought up on the cheap by foreign companies and see bits of the NHS run from abroad.

‘This really is just the beginning.

‘Parts of this government want to see all NHS management in private hands,’ Dr Buckman asserted.

Dr Buckman said the plan is ‘fatally flawed’, forcing GPs to compete, ‘with emotive offers of treatments but only the richer ones will be able to exercise real choice’.