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Cosmetic treatment

Q: Our practice would like to provide some services not available on the NHS as they would be considered cosmetic. Currently the only option for patients is expensive treatment at a local private hospital. We would like to provide the services at reasonable cost to both our patients and those of other local practices. It is proving impossible to get the PCT to give us a definite answer as to whether this is possible and, if it is, what rules and regulations we would need to follow. Can you give us a definitive answer?

A:Your practice cannot charge its NHS patients for such services but you can charge the patients of other practices.

You would need to insure/indemnify yourselves for doing cosmetic surgery. You should also check registration requirements with the Care Quality Commission (www.cqc.org.uk) because there may be a requirement to register with it to offer the services (this is rather a grey area at present).

Under GMC guidance (www.gmc-uk.org) you must not offer inducements to other practices to refer patients to you. If the income the private services generate is considerable, this could lead to a reduction in your NHS premises reimbursement. Your LMC may well be able to advise you further.

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