An Open Letter in Opposition to GP Appointment Fees

Following a proposal by members of the British Medical Association (BMA) to introduce GP appointment fees, colleagues and I wrote an open letter to doctors at our local GP surgery. The letter was the subject of an article in the local paper, and is reproduced below.

Department of Pharmacy and Pharmacology
University of Bath

Tuesday, 13 May 2014

University Medical Centre
Quarry House
North Road

Dear Drs McMaster, Lloyd and Bligh,

We are writing to you as patients and as students and academics in medicine-related fields to express our concern over recent proposals by members of the BMA to charge a fee for GP appointments. The proposals to be voted on at the local medical committee conference later this month would fundamentally violate two of the three core founding principles of the NHS – that it be free at the point of delivery and that it be based on clinical need, not ability to pay. We strongly urge you to publicly oppose any introduction of fees for access to NHS services and would appreciate your reassurance that you will do what you can to convince your colleagues to do the same.

Yours sincerely,

Mr Christopher Roche, Post-graduate
Dr Christopher Bailey, Senior Lecturer
Dr Jenny Scott, Senior Lecturer
Ms Kim Luetchford, Post-graduate
Ms Nour Alhusein, Post-graduate
Prof Roland Jones, Professor of Neuropharmacology
Ms Amy Stallard, Administrator
Dr Michael Beeton, Technician
Mrs Lidia Alhalaseh, Post-graduate
Mrs Penelope Lye, Teaching Fellow
Mr Stephen Phillips, Technician
Mr Greg Hopkins, Technician
Mr Alistair Taverner, Research Assistant
Mr Kevin Smith, Team Leader (Research)
Prof Mike Threadgill, Professor
Mr Chris Coy, Technician
Dr Joanna Swarbrick, Research Associate
Dr Peter Massey, Research Officer
Dr Olivier Reelfs, Research Officer
Dr Hannah Family, Lecturer
Dr Andrew Riley, Research Fellow
Ms Patricia Higgins, Laboratory Assistant
Mr Donald Perry, Technician
Mr Cormac Sammon, Research Associate
Mr Matt Udakis, Post-graduate

Update (2014-07-14): Apologies for the delayed update. The partners of  the University Medical Centre replied at the end of May to confirm that they agreed “that access to a GP within primary care should continue to be based on the core principles on which [the NHS] was founded: to meet the needs of everyone, be free at the point of delivery and remain based on clinical need and not the ability to pay”. They also informed us that they had contacted the Chief Executive of Wessex Local Medical Committee, who informed them that he intended to speak against the proposal to introduce fees for GP appointments, but that the vote was held before he had an opportunity to speak. In any case, I was relieved to hear that the proposal was rejected by the majority of Conference delegates.

A copy of the reply can be found below:


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