A Conservative Party policy group is mulling over whether there should be a cap on the number of times people can visit their GP a year.
The Conservative Policy Forum, which helps to shape the direction the party is taking, has thrown into the ring a number of rather controversial proposals for its members to consider.
These include the potential cap on GP visits, whether patients who repeatedly miss GP appointments should have any action taken against them, reducing weekend and evening appointments, and whether families should be responsible for the care of their infirm relatives.
According to the discussion paper, some GP surgeries are struggling with the expanding older population. The estimated number of consultations for a typical practice in England rose from 21,100 in 1995 to 34,200 in 2008, it notes, stressing that GPs "must find ways to expand or change the way their service is delivered in order to meet demand".
But already there has been strong opposition to the proposals. “This was obviously written by someone who has never been unwell, or has never met people who work in the health service," Clare Gerada, Chair of the Royal College of GPs, told the media.
GPC negotiator Chaand Nagpaul also reportedly slammed the idea of an annual appointment limit as ‘absurd’, according to Pulse.
"It would impact on the most vulnerable patients and create a hugely inequitable system," he told the publication, adding: "the Government has to invest in general practice and GP premises to help practices cope with demand".
And Labour health spokesman Jamie Reed told the Independent on Sunday: “This paper, hidden away on their website, reveals the Tories’ true agenda for the NHS. After throwing the NHS open to ever more privatisation with a wasteful and damaging reorganisation, it seems the Tories want to go even further".