Minister launches war on doctors' fees

A MAJOR crackdown on local medical practices that fix prices could happen this year.

A MAJOR crackdown on local medical practices that fix prices could happen this year.

Commerce and Employment minister Kevin Stewart said his department was expecting a report from the regulator in February, scrutinising the fees charged by GPs.

Although Deputy Stewart, pictured, did not know the results of the review, he said he wanted action to ensure more competitive prices for islanders.

He also believed that the current cap on the number of GPs should be reviewed.

‘What we want is much more competition in primary care,’ he said.

Comments for: "Minister launches war on doctors' fees"

guernseyman

Can you sort out the price of dentist's next, absolute rip off. Paying for a dental visit is worse than any treatment they put you through!

Jack

Kevin Stewart should be CEO of OUR! He has gained my respect for looking into things without fear!

guernseyal

Hope he wasn't planning on an appointment with his proctologist anytime soon!

Donkey's Wotsits

Perhaps the roles are about to be reversed.

sarniaaa

Kudos, that made me laugh DW!

Blondie

Excellent news. I work for a private bank and know what they earn. It is truly mind boggling.

swinesheadvillage

Not an islander but married to one. Lets juxtapose this and doctors launch war on ministers fees, outside consultants fees, general waste and best ways of losing £2.6m. Doctors any time in my book.

Suggest Stewart doesnt need an enema anytime soon.

Jack

Obviously you are a Doctor!

Swinesheadvillage

Dad was

Modernised health services locally (in UK) to the countries benefit. Reduced complexity, increased care, reduced cost, and yes, earned a good living. Stewart does all that, best of luck to him.

blogger

Dentists, doctors and lawyers all need looking at. They operate on a licence to print money.

Jack

And Taxi Drivers who say up you on a Bank Holiday!

sammy

Good on you Kevin ! About time something was done about the extreme fees they all charge.

Bizarre

The Press articles do not mention that one of the reasons the islands taxes are so low is because GP health care is not included. The island has always had a private system. In Guernsey the GP practices are private businesses. They co-operrate fully with competition law. There is a subsidy for those who need it. Why are dentists not included in this debate? Or lawyers for that fact?! They too are private businesses providing key services.

If Kevin Stewart wants to decrease doctors fees he needs to think more about the circumstances young and highly qualified (7 years training) doctors face in moving to the island and providing a crucial key service.

They face extortionate TRP and colossal repayments on a loan which they have to take out in order to become part of the private practice. This will be on top of whatever they have paid for their medical training. They then work in an intense setting making continuous risk assessments all day and dealing with anything from a cold and the other complaints the public are aware of, to a suicide attempt to child abuse working with all arms of health and social services.

It may be true that the older generations of doctors are sitting pretty but this is simply not the case for anyone under the age of 50.

Good luck with your plans Kevin. You are going to do is drive down the moral of what is currently a world class health system. Guernsey is not the UK.

Jack

Obviously you are a Doctor as well! Stop Bleeding us.

Ted

The use of the word extortionate in the context of TRP is completely inappropriate. Guernsey property taxes are very moderate in comparison with, for example, UK and France.

There is a very good reason why the cost of buying into a Guernsey medical practice is high. It is because private practice here is extremely lucrative - you get what you pay for.

Vincent

Doctors fee's are a joke, considering they are normally an hour late and then just chuck antibiotics at you for whatever you have!

Although dentist's and lawyer's are ten times worse....

Jack

We need more people like Kev. Prepared to stand up even if something may impact on himself!

Rachel

At least lawyers will prep themselves prior to a meeting, treat clients with respect and be on time, whereas doctors/consultants will more often than not expect the patient to explain their entire sometimes very complex history, over and over again, often when the patient is in pain or on medication, without even bothering to read their notes or xray reports prior to seeing them (which they will often be trying to skim read whilst the patient is speaking). Consultants are the absolute worst in this area and current practices are unprofessional and lead to mistakes.

The article states that there is a cap on the number of GPs/Consultants here- is that true? Surely that is against competition law?

Laughing inmate

Rachel

I assume you're joking? Maybe it's different if a client is paying £500 an hour, but if you're a legal aid punter you get seen at the advocate's convenience, with late and/or cancelled appointments incredibly common.

Rachel

I suppose it comes down to choice then doesn't it? If you have no choice then you will receive a lower standard of care, whereas, if you have a greater choice then you will be treated to a greater standard because they have to work harder for your business. Even when you are paying the high rates (through insurance) the current anti competitive practice of maintaining a cap on number of doctors limits patient choice. I'm with Kevin Stewart in lifting the cap on number of doctors and increasing competition, not just for lower fees but for a greater standard of care overall.

Taff

Given the many more serious problems within HSSD, and the whole of Guernsey States, this is an unnecessary distraction. Or a form of electioneering. The popular vote?

What solutions does he have for the really serious problems? Like the overall budget reduction, etc?

Jack

Electioneering? Come off it they have only just been elected!

Anyway wasn't this down to last board?

As an aside has anyone else noticed that amazon won't deliver many products to guernsey?

Bob C Wilderbeast

Over 40 quid for 10 mins, who,s having a laugh.

Remove the cap on Doctors allowed to practice here and get rid of the cartels. More Doctors allowed to practice independently the better.More competition can only be good for the health of islanders. Then maybe I can afford to see my Doctor again rather than leave it till its too late!

islander

Deputy Kevin Stewart.I think you are going away from your field of commerce and employment.I think you should be tackling unemployment and getting people off benefits.

Leave this for the newly elected HSSD minister

Jack

Not another Doctor? We should stop restricting everything including Taxi plates. These people do not deserve us!

Bertie

Lets remember the fees that are collected for consultations are not going directly to the doctors. The practice gets the income. Out of that they pay the doctors salaries and support staff. There are building costs, new equipment, ongoing training and the golves cotton wool and the like. I have to set a budget for the business I work for and the first thing we do is find out what it will cost to run. As the cost of equipment rises so will the fees. The doctors will not be sitting there rubbing their hands together saying how much can we squeeze out of our cleints today! I accept that some of the doctors are shareholders or partners in the business and will get a profit share. This is no different to other people in business.

Jack

You seem to be having a laugh mate! Doctors are allowed a licence to look after us. Not to put us behond them. This really needs a good looking into Kev.

les pets

what about any buisness that has to cover rent ,wear and tear, insurances etc etc. what about the trades people who train for 5 years and can only dream of a doctors wage.if a plumber went to a doctors house and charged them £3oo an hour would that be fair???

blondie

Well working for a private bank, the partnes in law firms and medical practices can rake in £40k a month. Seems obscene to me

UK Dr

That is ten times the monthly take home of a full time GP or Consultant in the UK so I doubt your figure.

When people in Guernsey see a GP they are thinking "£40 for 10 minutes ...that's steep". Perhaps the bill should read GP £10, Property overheads (mortgage, heating, water etc)£10, Other staff (Receptionists, cleaner, security)£10, Consumables (paper, computer equipment, surgery equipment such as swabs, one use only coach covers + tongue depressors etc etc) £5, and practice profit margin £5. Doesn't seem so bad then does it?

Guernsey could go the way of the UK and take taxes for a "free for all at the point of use" service, but you will still be paying for it, just without knowing exactly how much. Interestingly, there are many senior clinical staff within the NHS who believe that the current UK government are trying to privatise the NHS and that the days of this service are numbered, but that is another debate.

Dave Jones

UK GP

I think that is a very fair assesment of the costs associated with running the GP's surgeries. The nurses they provide are highly qualified staff and do not work for nothing, also I would add to your list approx a Million pounds in bad debt, unpaid bills across the years that have had to be absorbed by the GP practices

keeper

Can you then please justify the charges made if you attend A & E in particular during the night time. These charges are in excess of £150 with no overheads!!!! as nurses, equipment, etc all paid for by the taxpayer. Having experienced this and been seen for only 5 minutes by the Dr and the rest of the time by very capable nurses. Can Dep. Jones also confirm that on top of these charges HSSD also pay something like £800,000 for GPs to give this cover????

islander

Blondie

Have you signed a secretive document on customers confidential banking?

Jack

You must be underpaid or not working where you say? But I get your drift!

amadeus

Don't give up on this one Kevin.

Just been to GP (great Doc), timed my conultation - 5 mins = £42!

Just saying

And what would you have been charged for a mechanic to look under your bonnet for 5 mins? Minimum of an hour charge out rate?? £120?

les pets

what are u driving ?? a rolls.

Bizarre

If you are going to try and reduce the fees that private medical businesses charge then you must also do the same for other private businesses including builders, taxis, plumbers, dentists, lawyers, restauranteurs, banks, supermarkets etc etc. Are they earning too much money too??

You can not expect to have private businesses operating here which depend on foreign labour (there are not enough local qualified doctors to cover the island) and then tell them what they can and can't charge. C&E can do this at the hospital because it is a State run facility. GP practices are not. There has never been an NHS in Guernsey. This is partly why taxes are so low.

The island already dictates how 'foreign' doctors spend their income through the TRP system. When you see a young doctor (under 50yrs) living in a big house it's not because he necessarily wants to, it's because he has been told to by housing!

The fees of private medical practices cover cost of staff (the GP practices employ hundreds of local people as nurses and admin staff as well as some who are doctors), resources such as medical materials, cost of using labs for testing samples, office admin etc etc.

This whole debate is ridiculous and serves no purpose but to detract from other issues such as addressing the shrinkage in the finance sector and Commerce & Employment's inability to create any kind of diversification with new employment opportunities.

A cheap political shot to get the working mans vote.

Phil

What a Bizarre post. If I wish to use any of the trades / services you mention (apart from taxis) I have the freedom to choose who it is that I use, and that choice will in part at least be made on price. The last time I looked there was no cartel in operation in any of the areas you mention (apart from taxis) quite the opposite in fact.

Your post makes little sense I'm afraid, you're not comparing like with like.

Cartel worker

Taxi fares are not a cartel, they self employed people who's charges are fixed by the States, lets see the States try and fixed builders charges etc Nd see what happens.

Bizarre

Phil

If you go and look you will find that a new competition law came in recently and that there is differentiation between practice pricing. All the 'private' practices operate within competition law.

The States have long been aware, and had a part in, practice pricing. Perhaps Kevin could explain what government policy the structure was based on?

I am afraid that part of the problem is that the public is only getting to hear what Kevin Stewart wants them to hear.

This is nothing but a detraction from more serious problems and failures. Kevin i attempting to replicate the negative spin campaign against doctors in the UK without stopping to think about the realities.

damo

Hang on....

The dentists is way more expensive. One tiny xray and a filling (necessary due to an abcess). All done in less than two hours for £570. He even knocked off £100 when i queried the massive expense !

Taz

That is far to much Damo, i would get another dentist, mine isnt cheap but its not that expensive!!!!

No one seems to have mentioned Vets, they seem to be charging more to treat a pet then it is to treat a person!! Crazy!

MSG makes the most money off us.

Bridge

Admittedly it's a difficult one, but the fact is that many of us can't afford to go the doctor and this can't be right. Medical care should not be the privilege of those that can afford it so I support anyone who is prepared to stand up and at least ask the question.

Just saying

If you really find it hard to pay for Dr's bills, I think the Social are there to help?

Bridge

@ Just Saying, thanks for your suggestion.

Unfortunately however I am one of those who fall into the bracket where I do not earn a low enough salary to warrant claiming on the MEAS Scheme, (the threshold is very low), but I don't earn enough to actually pay for more than one doctor's bill a month without really struggling. Almost £50 a time is really a lot of money for me (and no doubt for many others). So over the winter, with two young children, it can be a trying time.

I think part of the problem is that so many finance workers have health insurance for themselves and all their families and can just visit the doctor willy-nilly, thereby driving up insurance premiums and muddying the waters when it comes to analysing the cost impact on the community as a whole.

Add that to the fact that doctors live like minor aristocracy in Guernsey, and you have quite a problem for those without significant means.

I suppose I could do like others and chuck in working and scrounge off the States, but that is not the kind of life I want for myself (or my children).

Bizarre

That's because the cost of medical services IS expensive and someone has to pay! Islanders do not pay for GP services via taxes.

You either have to pay to see the doctor privately or through taxation. Do the people of Guernsey want similar tax rates to the UK or Scandinavia?

The cost of visiting the doctor has to be factored in to the cost of living in the same way that maintaining a car or a house is. You are maintaining your health! If you want an excellent health care system (which the island does) then you have to be prepared to pay for it (unfortunately).

There is a subsidy for those who need it.

Kevin Stewart is not telling the whole story and he knows it.

Bridge

@ Bizarre

Who said that islanders don't want to pay via tax for their healthcare? Have you actually asked everyone? At least then we would all be on an even playing field. At the moment there are hundreds (probably thousands) of families with finance-industry-funded medical insurance lining doctors' pockets and allowing them to live like royalty, whilst the rest of us struggle to make ends meet.

As to "factoring in" healthcare costs, how can you do that when you have no idea how "ill" you (or your family) are going to be? One of my children went through a period of serious and prolonged ill-health last year and by the time she was well I had clocked up a medical bill in the region of just under £1,000. If you are on a modest salary, how are you supposed to just "factor that in"?

Perhaps you are one of those with comfortable health insurance paid for by some faceless corporation. Well if you are, lucky you. Not all of us are that fortunate.

Fermain

Healthcare is expensive and you get what you pay for. Everyone just needs to get over that and pay up with relief that we have access to such high quality care.

For matter I would rather pay for treatment at the PEH and the MSG rather than see the constant battles over care and staffing there.

West

I wish I could vote for Kevin Stewart. With him and Dave Jones I'd have two "prepared to stand up deputies" on my list instead of the two invisible monkeys I voted for!

A.J.

I'm sure that those who find their Doctor's charges too high, could find a local Car mechanic to look under their 'bonnet'for a lot less,having first made sure that he has washed his hands in Swaffeger, of course!

GLO ex guern

I have read all the comments above and am concerned that this has only just come to light. My son was born at the PEH in 1963 due to complications, not only did i have an op buti had my own GP who visited me on a daily basis, for this the cost was over £300 which was a lot of monies at that time.I only worried about the payment later and i was offered a repayment plan . is this not ongoing now!!. My husband was only working for the states so not a lot of money coming in.(I must add that i we were very lucky that my English grand mother paid the bill in full)if she had not paid i do wonder how we would have managed.May i add that i was fully thank full for a friendly face and support of my doctor.

Sam

Most above are quoting £40 for 10 mins, but in fact the visits are subsidised by the States. The actual 10 min fee is £50 or £51.

One of the largest problems are the prescriptions and the amount of drugs prescribed and the huge waste of unused drugs that have to be dumped. When was the last time you went to a doctor and didn't come out with a prescription of some sort or another?

There are huge profit margins made on many of the drugs and the costs to the States runs into millions each year.

An inquiry into to whole set-up is long overdue.

Pat

People would be queuing for miles down the road, outside every A & E dept, if you had to pay that to see a GP in the UK.

Bridge

Actually the private rate to see a GP in the UK (at least in Hertfordshire) is almost the same as here.

Pat

The majority of people use an NHS GP in the UK which is free, they couldn't afford a consultation with a private GP, which infact would be at least double what we pay here. Even if you have private medical insurance in the UK you still have to go through your own NHS GP, to get referred to a consultant privately.

Guern

We are not England, but Guernsey, please keep this in mind.

Only this morning they were quoting 2 weeks plus wait to see a GP in England, most locals can see the doc the following day or if needs be the same day.

It is like everything as has been said before you get what you pay for, we get a good service from the GP's and after care, MSG is very good, PEH is very good.

If you are struggling with a Dr's account social is there and are very good, if we want a service that is funded by the States we will have to pay for it by tax, the long and short of it is This is Guernsey not England and if you not happy well there're are boats and planes that go to that "better" place that you are trying to convert us to being!

Lets leave Guernsey as it is not all is better the way others do it, and sometimes they could learn from us.

Scarlett

Thank god that St Kev has finally found a popular bandwagon to jump on and secure his further political career.

Guess it's easier than applying himself to his more pressing matters, ie. finding suitable alternatives for the shrinking finance industry, whilst trying to reassure them they're still his BFF's, ay......? ;)

Scarlett

..there you go, Kev, take a quick squiz at the front page of the Press today for a little reminder of what your job is and what you should be focussing on, two businesses on the way out, more redundancies...

got any actual solutions to the oncoming crises?

No?

Quelle surprise.

tomb

had to go to the doctor for work on boxing day o yer normal surgery closed ok intitled to bank hols off fair enough so up to primary care £92 that cost so an extra £52 was'nt chuffed ,£92 more then a days wages for me dont seem right some how .

sarnia expat

It is expensive we know that, so why don't you buy insurance? Presumably you don't drive your car without some form of cover, so why would you take risks with your body? You don't have to pay over the odds for all the bells and whistles that some insurers charge - I pay a very cheap rate for my family and all the visits to GP/nurses/physios are covered. La Fraternelle is the place to go, local and friendly!

A.J.

Or, you could join 'The Oddfellows.'

We have been members for more than 50 years, and have never had to pay doctor's fees,whilst even 'some' Optician's and dentist's costs have also been covered.We are at present paying,just over £70 per month, which covers two of us.I believe this has been an excellent insurance, and have recommended it to our friends and family

sarnia expat

Absolutely. Looked on my particular site this morning and it works out at £8 per week. OK so you have to pay three months before they pay out, but it is worth it isn't it?

Propaganda

£70 per month, £840 per year for two of you!!!

You'd have to be ill very often to get value for money from that deal!

It's enough for 21 visits to the GP, nearly one a month each. If you're not going that often you'd be far better off self insuring, in other words just paying the doctors bill as and when required.