A woman from Abbots Langley fears a “sinister” plot is in place to end the NHS because a patient website promotes paid appointments.

Eryl McNally made the discovery when she tried to book an appointment at her surgery Vine House Health Centre in Abbots Langley via the Patient Access website.

She found that it no longer offered appointments, but it did list medical services that people could pay for.

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Mrs McNally, of Follett Drive, said: "I couldn’t book an appointment, but a whole list of treatments that are available privately appeared. There is a little pound sign next to the treatments.

“It’s easy to get the impression that the surgery is recommending that you go private and pay.

“It is edging on the sinister side."

Watford Observer: A screen shot of the Patient Access page advertising paid for treatments. A screen shot of the Patient Access page advertising paid for treatments.

She continued: “I am very worried that this is the thin end of the wedge and that patients are unknowingly being directed towards private care in what is a national health service provision.”

Mrs McNally, 80, said she is aware that this feature is not at the hands of her GP surgery, which she has been attending for 56 years, but a choice of the website Patient Access, which is run by EMIS and approved by NHS England.

She has called for the website and practices that use it to make clear what services are available for free on the NHS.

Mrs McNally added: “There is some information at the top that says the services are available on the NHS, but it is in very small print.

Watford Observer: Eryl McNally.Eryl McNally.

“Vine House is excellent. But I think all surgeries must make it clear that they are not behind this promotion of private services.”

A Vine House Health Centre spokesperson said: “This occurred due to an error in a third-party system used to handle online bookings.

“We are fixing this as quickly as possible and we’re sorry for the confusion caused.

“The NHS does not charge for people to see a GP or receive treatment.”

An EMIS spokesperson said: “Patient Access is a portal for patients to search for the NHS or non-NHS services that are openly available to them.

“Patient Access has offered online access to NHS GP appointment booking since 2005, and has recently been extended to enable patients to view and book services provided by local pharmacies and approved private healthcare providers to provide choice.

"Any non-NHS services are clearly marked as ‘services outside of your GP practice’ to ensure it is clear which services need to be paid for so that patients can make an informed choice."

They added: "Each GP practice determines which and how many appointment slots are made available to book via Patient Access in order to best manage their practice workload and patient requirements for the local area.”

NHS England has been approached for a response.

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