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Short on patients

I had to respond to to the letter in Money Marketing headed, Doctor’s orders, concerning GPs being paid by pharmaceutical companies and overprescribing.

Come on, this argument has run and run and, as an analogy, the matter can easily be turned on its head.

The counter-argument is easily put forward. If the GP had to charge patients for the drugs prescribed (the equivalent of charging fees as opposed to naughty commission), I tell you what would happen – you would probably see relatively empty GP surgeries as those normally turning up now think twice in view of the fees involved.

I have no qualms with commission or fees but it always seems that those in the fee camp introduce a complete bias into their argument to dampen unfairly the parallel commission argument.

A doctor would not overprescribe drugs, regardless of how he is paid, because he is a professional. We would all agree on that. Interestingly, the RDR introduces higher exam requirements, etc, to make all advisers more professional.

As such, once all advisers are diploma-level in 2012, their professionalism should ensure that, regardless of fees or commission, they do a good job. If the argument is that commission would still cause bias, then what is the point of taking all the exams? You cannot have it both ways.

The solution is simple – we all know that when we talk about commission bias we are talking about bonds v unit trusts, etc. Bring those into line and the whole commission v fees debate would evaporate.

Ian McIver

Managing director

The Whitechurch Network

Bristol

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