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Last Updated: Thursday, 8 February 2007, 12:30 GMT
Many GPs ' prefer private care'
GP writing a prescription
Over 600 GPs were quizzed
Nearly 40% of GPs would prefer to be treated privately rather than relying on the NHS, a survey says.

The poll of 1,723 doctors for Hospital Doctor magazine found 28% of GPs had private health care, compared to 22% of all doctors, including consultants.

Another 10% of the 602 GPs quizzed said they would like to take out private insurance.

Patients said the results showed family doctors lacked faith in the NHS, but GP leaders denied this.

The poll also showed a quarter of doctors had a physical disability, medical condition, psychological illness or a combination of all three.

When people involved in helping provide care don't feel comfortable to receive care you start to ask questions
Patients Association spokeswoman

Some 60% said they did not believe employers were doing enough to help doctors in terms of occupational health and flexible working practices.

Mayur Lakhani, chairman of the Royal College of GPs, said: "I think the profession must get better at looking after itself and putting welfare first.

"The service needs to offer more in terms of occupational health."

But a spokeswoman for the Patients Association said it was worrying.

"When people involved in helping provide care don't feel comfortable to receive care you start to ask questions.

"But we also wonder if the NHS as an employer is doing enough to support its staff."

Pay

The number of doctors, and in particular GPs, taking out health insurance, compares with just 12% of the general population who do.

It comes after GP pay has broken through the 100,000 barrier following the introduction of a new contact in 2004.

Dr Hamish Meldrum, chairman of the GP's committee, said family doctors took out private health care because they were self-employed rather than because they lacked faith in the health service.

"Like any other self-employed people, when GPs are away the services they provide suffer.

"Until waiting lists times fall even further, private heath care will buy faster treatment.

"If they did not believe so strongly in the NHS they would not work for it."


SEE ALSO
Q&A: GPs' pay
19 Jan 07 |  Health
Average GP pay rises to 106,000
29 Nov 06 |  Health
GPs 'earn up to 250,000 a year'
18 Apr 06 |  Health

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