Private GP services are not parasites but take some of the burden off the NHSBMJ 2018; 361 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.k2557 (Published 13 June 2018) Cite this as: BMJ 2018;361:k2557
I have corresponded with Margaret McCartney in the past, and, although our backgrounds are very different (I have been a solely private GP for over 30 years), we tend to agree more than we disagree. She is correct to warn about online private GP services that advertise “Get antibiotics online” and the difficulty in doing a proper clinical examination remotely.1 However, the NHS has so much to do that it really would be impossible to improve NHS services to the point where private GPs are no longer needed. We really do take some of the burden off the NHS, so to describe us as “parasites” is a bit strong—we at Samedaydoctor do look after chronic illnesses and many complex physical and mental health issues.
I would take issue with one factual point—I am not able to enable queue jumping into the NHS since I am not allowed to refer to NHS consultants. I would be very surprised if other private services were able to do this as McCartney claims. Similarly, we rarely prescribe drugs of potential misuse, and I would support any NHS GP who declined to continue long term prescribing of these on the basis of a private consultation, and I would not ask them to do so.
Competing interests: None declared.