Why do GP’s charge fees? Your questions answered.
IMPORTANT: PRIVATE WORK – Please note that anything that is not NHS contracted work can take up to six weeks to complete as the doctors must give priority to all NHS work. This includes some forms that are required for the Council. Fees are charged where appropriate for private work. If you do need something done please contact the Patient Services team to find about the charges. A GP appointment is NOT needed if you need to have forms or reports done. Charges can be paid by card over the phone and must be paid before the work is undertaken.
Isn’t the NHS supposed to be free?
The National Health Service provides most health care to most people free of charge, but there are exceptions, for example prescription charges, and there are a number of other services for which fees are charged. This is because the service is not covered by the NHS, for example medical reports for insurance companies, claim forms for referral to private care and other letters and forms which require the GP to review the patient’s medical record.
Surely the GP is being paid anyway?
GPs are not employed by the NHS. They are self-employed and have to cover their costs – staff, buildings, heating, lighting etc – in the same way as any small business. The NHS pays the doctor for specific NHS work but for non-NHS work the fee has to cover the GP’s costs.
What is covered by the NHS and what is not?
The government’s contract with GP’s covers medical services to NHS patients. In recent years more and more organisations have been involving GPs in a whole range of non-medical work.
Examples of non-NHS services for which GPs can charge their NHS patients are;
- Certain travel vaccinations
- Private medical insurance reports
- Holiday cancellation claim forms
- Referral for private care forms
- Letters requested by, or on behalf of, the patient
Examples of non-NHS services for which GPs can charge other institutions are;
- Medical reports for an insurance company
- Some reports from DSS/Benefits agency
- Examinations of local authority employees
Why does it sometimes take my GP a long time to complete my form?
Time spent completing forms and preparing reports takes the GP away from the medical care of his / her patients. GPs have a very heavy workload and paperwork takes up an increasing amount of their time.
I only need a GPs signature – what is the problem?
When a GP signs a certificate or completes a report, it is a condition of remaining on the Medical Register that they only sign what they know to be true. Therefore, in order to complete even the most simplest of forms, the GP needs to check the patient’s entire medical record. Carelessness or inaccurate report can have serious consequences for the GP.