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Doctors call for co-payment review

10th July 2008

Patients should have the choice to pay for treatment that the NHS cannot offer while continuing to receive the rest of their medical care on the health service, according to doctors at the British Medical Association’s (BMA’s) annual conference.

Although medical professionals stopped short of demanding co-payments, they have called on the government to set up a royal commission to review the issue.

Dr Hamish Meldrum said: “In principle doctors believe that patients should have the choice to buy additional treatment that is not available on the NHS, without being forced to pay for all their treatment privately.”

However, he added doctors accepted that before any new schemes were introduced it was first necessary to collect and examine further evidence and then to hold a wider debate.

If co-payments were introduced, doctors at the conference in Edinburgh agreed certain safeguards must be put in place.

They said it must be guaranteed that the system was not used to extend NHS user charges and only when this was certain should co-payments be introduced.

Earlier this month, the Department of Health, the Welsh assembly government, the Northern Ireland office and the Scottish government issued a statement reaffirming their commitment to the core principles of the NHS.

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