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GPs acting outside the law over retainers, says ECCA

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Fees demanded from care homes by GPs are arbitrary and may, in some cases, be illegal, according to a report by the English Community Care Association

The government has backed retainer fees to GPs if they are contributing to the management of a care home but Can We Afford the Doctor?, finds that, while some care homes are paying for this, most are only paying for general medical services.

It said: ‘The vast majority of ECCA members who responded... reported that where they are paying fees, the payment was made simply in order to secure the commitment of the GP to visit residents in the care home setting rather than specialist or “enhanced” management advice.’

It adds: ‘Receipt of payment for essential level primary care services to patients registered with a practice is illegal.’

Care homes reported annual fees ranging from £0 to £24,000. The variation did not correspond with the level of service. The report calls for clarity and consistency in setting fees, based on a standard contract, which should set out the cost of services, and how that cost is decided.

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