Why do GPs sometimes charge fees – Non-NHS Fees
What is covered by the NHS and what is not?
The Government’s contract with GPs covers medical services to NHS patients, including the provision of ongoing medical treatment.
It is important to understand that many GPs are not employed by the NHS. They are self-employed and they have to cover their costs – staff, buildings etc. – in the same way as any small business. The NHS covers these costs for NHS work but not for non-NHS work. The fees charged by GPs contribute towards these costs.
In recent years, more and more organisations have been involving doctors in a whole range of non-medical, non-NHS work. Sometimes the only reason that GPs are asked is because they are in a position of trust in the community, or because an insurance company or employer wants to ensure that information provided to them is true and accurate.
Do GPs have to do non-NHS work for their patients?
With certain limited exceptions, for example a GP confirming that one of their patients is not fit for jury service, GPs do not have to carry out non-NHS work on behalf of their patients.
Whilst our GPs and practice teams will endeavour to assist our patients where possible, we are not required to do non-NHS work.
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 or her patients. Most GPs have a very heavy workload and paperwork takes up an increasing amount of their time. Many GPs find they have to complete this work outside of and in addition to their normal hours.
NHS medical care of our patients always takes priority during our working day so any private letters or forms can take up to 3 weeks to complete and return to you. We cannot guarantee they will be completed earlier.
I only need the doctor’s signature – what is the problem?
When a doctor 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.
In order to complete even the simplest of forms, therefore, the doctor might have to check the patient’s entire medical record. Carelessness or an inaccurate report can have serious consequences for the doctor with the General Medical Council (the doctors’ regulatory body) or even the Police.
What will I be charged?
We recommend that our GPs tell patients in advance if they will be charged, and what the fee will be.
We produce list of suggested fees which our doctors use. Please visit our website: http://www.bbbhp.co.uk/non-nhs-services/ or speak to a member of our patient assistant team who will be able to give you a copy. Please note that this list is not exhaustive. If items are not listed, managers or doctors have the discretion to charge the appropriate fee in accordance with the British Medical Association’s suggested fees.
What can I do to help?
- Not all documents need a signature by a doctor, for example passport applications. You can ask another person in a position of trust to sign such documents free of charge.
- Some forms just require list of your medical conditions and medications rather than a formal letter from your doctor.
- If you have several forms requiring completion, present them all at once and ask your GP if he or she is prepared to complete them at the same time to speed up the process.
- Please do not expect your GP to process forms overnight as NHS work will always take priority.