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GPs warned over mixing NHS and private care

22 August 2013

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GPs should be clearer on the boundaries when dealing with patients wanting to mix NHS and private care, a medico-legal organisation has warned. 

UK-wide medical defence organisation MDDUS has dealt with calls from GPs asking if they can prescribe privately for NHS patients. 

But MDDUS medical advisor Nr Naeem Nazem said the answer must always be “no”. 

He said: “It can be a potentially serious ethical issue if the correct steps aren’t taken. Any act of perceived dishonesty can lead to GMC sanctions and the risk of erasure.”

He added that doctors should keep a clear separation between NHS and private treatment, acting “openly and honestly” to ensure there is no conflict of interest. 

Patients are entitled to opt in and out of NHS treatment at any stage as long as they are entitled to NHS treatment initially. 

Doctors who have a financial or commercial interest in a company, for example a pharmacy, pharmaceutical or medical devices company, must ensure they do not allow that interest to affect decisions around patient care, the MDDUS warned. 

Nazem said: “Conflicts of interest are not always avoidable. [But] any potential conflict of interest should be recorded in the patient’s records.”