GPs in London and Hertfordshire join scheme offering same-day appointments for £1,200 a year

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By Ross Lydall Health Editor

NHS family doctors today began offering 30-minute consultations and their mobile phone number to patients — for a £1,200 annual fee.

More than 30 GPs in London and Hertfordshire have joined the Concierge Choice UK private scheme, which allows patients to “hand-pick” their doctor and request on-the-day appointments.

The fee covers an annual health check, including blood and urine tests. Some doctors will also offer home visits.

Patients have to choose a new Concierge GP from its list of doctors and cannot sign up with one at their existing surgery.

Dr Mark Sweeney, the Knightsbridge GP who founded the scheme, said he believed it would appeal to patients with chronic conditions who would benefit from longer consultations.

It would also prove attractive to people who smoke, or are overweight, but want long-term goals to improve their health, and to families, he said.

Children are free if both parents sign up. Each GP will be limited to 75 Concierge patients. The scheme hopes to attract 1,000 members within a year.

Appointments will each cost about £30 in addition to the annual membership fee.

Dr Sweeney told the Standard: “The average GP has about 1,700 to 1,800 patients. We expect our GPs to have about 25 to 30 Concierge patients, so it’s going to be a small part of their workload.

“The GP will still be spending 90 per cent of their time on NHS work. We want to work in a complementary way with the NHS. We will be recommending that patients remain registered with their NHS GP.

“If the patient consents, we will notify their GP with any findings that we obtain when we see them for the annual medical.”

The service takes advantage of NHS rules that allow GPs to generate a proportion of their income from non-NHS work, such as occupational health medicine, sports medicine, acupuncture or private care.

Average NHS GP appointments last for 10 minutes, can be limited to one health problem and are often hard to obtain quickly.

The NHS’s annual GP Patient Survey 2018 found that 24 per cent of people had to wait a week or more for an appointment.

Under the Concierge system patients will be given their doctor’s email and mobile number for out-of-hours emergencies, and will have a priority line to call when booking appointments.

They will typically be seen in the doctor’s NHS surgery.

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