Health warning on private GPs

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The Independent Online
PRIVATE DIAL-A-DOCTOR services, which offer home visits for a fee, are costly, unregulated and do not guarantee treatment from a trained GP, a report says today.

The visiting services have sprung up in central London in recent years, but patients who call them out may end up paying pounds 50 to pounds 70 a time. In addition, the doctor who visits may have no specialised training as a GP.

The services use a mix of GPs and hospital doctors - and if things go wrong patients will not have the same protection as if they were treated on the NHS, according to Health Which?, published by the Consumers' Association.

The magazine identified nine private visiting services that advertised in the Yellow Pages in London. There is growing commercial interest in the GP service from private companies, because of the NHS's shortcoming in providing quick access and convenient appointments, and the number of doctors involved is expected to rise. Of 2,000 people surveyed by the magazine, a third said they would consider paying a private doctor to visit them.