Agenda 2001: Elderly Paying Twice to See GPs; "It Is Outrageous That Again Older People in Residential and Nursing Homes Are Having to Pay over the Odds for Something the Rest of Us Get Free"
Byline: MAXINE FRITH
Thousands of elderly people in care homes are being forced to pay to see their GPs, according to a report published yesterday.
Campaigners said the scandal meant care home residents were paying twice for family doctor services and claimed it was another example of ageism in the NHS.
The report by a group of charities found that some GPs are charging care homes for services such as the flu jab and holding on-site surgeries.
Care homes are having to finance the GPs' fees with subsidies from the charities that fund them - and charges on individual patients.
A survey of 183 charitable care homes, looking after 9,000 people, was conducted by charities including Help the Aged, the Alzheimer's Society and the Association of Charity Officers.
Family doctors automatically get pounds 45 from the NHS for every patient they have aged over 75, regardless of whether they live in their own house or a care home.
They are also allowed to charge ''retainer'' fees to care homes for services which they consider above and beyond core NHS services.
A third of charitable care homes in the UK pay fees to GPs for services, the survey found.
But the report found widespread variations in what GPs regarded as core services and those they charged for.
While 80 per cent of GPs had provided the flu jab free of charge to care home residents, one in five had listed it as a ''contracted service'' for which the homes had to pay. …