Doctors dismiss UK Government plans for GPs to ‘prescribe’ energy discounts
Labour accused the Conservatives of having “lost the plot” as the proposal was being considered by ministers seeking ideas to ease the pain of soaring energy bills.
Whitehall sources confirmed the proposal was “definitely of interest” and being considered after it was first reported by the Sun on Sunday.
Dr David Wrigley, BMA England’s GP committee deputy chair, said: “At a time when GPs are already overwhelmed with the greatest workforce crisis and longest waiting lists in memory, this addition to their workload is totally unacceptable.
“It beggars belief that Government ministers think it is appropriate to suggest GPs undertake this work.
“In these next few months GPs already have to worry about delivering the Covid and flu vaccination programmes that will be necessary to see the NHS through the winter, on top of their daily crushing workload and the enormous Covid backlog we now see.
“They do not have the time or the skills to do the work of the welfare system.
“The Government has not discussed this with us in any form – floating these sorts of proposals via the media is deeply unprofessional.
“We completely reject any suggestion that GPs do this work.”
It was understood the BMA would fight the policy if ministers did try to introduce it, though that is considered unlikely.
Lost the plot
Shadow health secretary Wes Streeting said: “The Conservatives have lost the plot on the cost-of-living crisis and haven’t got a clue about the level of pressure on the NHS.”
Reiterating Labour’s plan to freeze prices this winter, he added: “Labour already has the right prescription for dealing with rising energy bills.”
A Government official said the policy would “take a lot more work” but was “something to consider” as all ideas remain on the table.
On Friday, Ofgem is expected to hike the cap on energy bills from £1,971 to around £3,600 and analysts have forecast that they could hit £6,000 a year in April.
Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng, a close ally of Liz Truss who is tipped to be her chancellor if she wins the Tory leadership race, insisted there would be fresh support this winter as energy bills soar.
“I understand the deep anxiety this is causing. As winter approaches, millions of families will be concerned about how they are going to make ends meet,” he wrote in the Mail+.
“But I want to reassure the British people that help is coming.”
He said Ms Truss “will look at what more can be done to help families” but insisted it is “entirely reasonable not to detail the exact shape of that support until she has all the information to hand”.
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