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General Practitioners (Charges)

Volume 130: debated on Thursday 31 March 1988

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To ask the Secretary of State for Social Services (1) what is his estimate of the annual yield, excluding administration cost, from requiring all patients to pay £5 for each consultation with a general practitioner;(2) what is his estimate of the annual yield, excluding administration costs, from requiring all patients, except the chronically sick, to pay £5 for each consultation with a general practitioner;(3) what is his estimate of the annual yield, excluding administration costs, from requiring all patients, except those in receipt of retirement pension, to pay £5 for each consultation with a general practitioner;(4) what is his estimate of the annual yield, excluding administration costs, from requiring all patients, except those in receipt of supplementary benefit, to pay £5 for each consultation with a general practitioner;(5) what is his estimate of the annual yield, excluding administration costs, from requiring all patients, except the chronically sick and those in receipt of retirement pensions or supplementary benefit, to pay £5 for each consultation with a general practitioner.

The figures requested are as follows. Broad estimates only are possible, as the Department does not collect any data on a routine basis on consultations with general medical practitioners. The only information which is available is derived from the general household survey which is an annual inquiry based on some 12,000 households. It gives consultation rates by age and sex, but does not identify separately the consultation rates applying to specific groups such as the chronically sick or those in receipt of retirement pension or supplementary benefits; and an assumption has therefore been made that the consultation rates for these groups are the same as for the population as a whole in the relevant age group for each sex. The figures give the estimated annual gross yield on this basis before deduction of administration costs, and assume no change in present consultation patterns.

Estimated annual yield in England assuming a payment of £5 for each consultation with a general medical practitioner applying to:
£ million
All patients980
All patients except the chronically sick1670
All patients except those in receipt of retirement pensions2760
All patients except those in receipt of supplementary benefit3840
All patients except the chronically sick and those in receipt of retirement pensions and supplementary benefit1 2 3 4470
Notes:
1 The chronically sick are defined as those reporting a long-standing illness in the General Household Survey.
2 Those receiving retirement pensions are assumed to be all men aged 65 and over, and all women aged 60 and over.
3 It is assumed that partners and dependents of people in receipt of supplementary benefits would also be excepted.
4 It is assumed that the same proportion of chronically sick people are in receipt of supplementary benefit as the population as a whole in each age group for each sex.

No estimate has been made of the administration costs involved in collecting such charges but these costs would not be insignificant.