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NHS safety watchdog sends warning over charging for GP appointments

Charging for GP appointments will worsen patient safety and drive more people to A&E, the head of a national safety watchdog has warned.

Dr Rosie Benneyworth, the chief investigator for the Healthcare Safety Investigation Branch (HSIB), was responding to a suggestion by former health secretary Sajid Javid who said the present model of the NHS was “unsustainable”.

He said “extending the contributory principle” should be part of radical reforms to tackle growing waiting times.

But Dr Benneyworth said it would only drive more people to seek help from already overstretched services.

She said: “I don’t want to be drawn into the politics around this but I believe in free at the point of delivery NHS and my concern would be [if] we charge people that people would not come forward early for their care and that would leave people needing more urgent and emergency care, because of delayed presentations.”

Dr Benneyworth said there needed to be a bigger focus on patient safety in services outside of A&E, such as NHS 111 and out-of-hours services.

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Source: The Independent, 26 January 2023


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