Return of drugs savings to doctors `ethically suspect'

 

Patients are suffering because of the policy of encouraging GPs to prescribe "cost-effective" drugs, the Association of General Practitioners' annual conference was told. The scheme whereby doctors get a proportion of the savings made by prescribing such drugs for investment in their practice was described in a motion before the conference as "unjust, unfair and ethically suspect".

Dr Mary Grehan, honorary PRO of the association, said it was wrong that health boards invested money in GP practices where the doctor had saved money on drugs for patients who were medical card holders.

Patients in practices where there had not been savings under the drug-budgeting scheme were suffering, she told the conference, because the doctor could not afford renovations or better equipment. The AGP's chairman, Dr Michael Daly, said it was an established ethical principle that a doctor should not directly benefit from his own prescribing habits.