Why do GP’s charge fees? Your questions answered.
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: prescription charges have existed since 1951 and there are a number of other services for which fees are charged. Sometimes the charge is made to cover some of the cost of treatment, in other cases, it is because the service is not covered by the NHS, for example, providing copies of health records or producing medical reports for insurance companies.
Surely the GP is being paid anyway?
GPs are not employed by the NHS. They are self-employed and they have to cover their costs – staff, buildings, heating, lighting etc. in the same way as any small business. The NHS covers these costs for NHS work, but for non-NHS work, the fees charged by GPs contribute towards their 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;
- accident or sickness certificates for insurance purposes
- school fee and holiday insurance certificates
- reports for health clubs to certify that patients are fit to exercise
Examples of non-NHS services for which GPs can charge other institutions are;
- life assurance and income protection reports for insurance companies
- reports for the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) in connection with disability living allowance and attendance allowance
- medical reports for local authorities in connection with adoption and fostering
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 GPs will always attempt to assist their patients with the completion of forms, for example for insurance purposes, they are not required to do such 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, so many GPs find they have to take some paperwork home at night and weekends.
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.
Charges at Wembury Surgery
At Wembury Surgery we have a list of fees displayed at reception. They are also contained in a link below.
Private Fees (as of 01/01/2015)
Why do I need to pay upfront?
In the past we have completed reports and forms before payment has been made, but sadly there have been many occasions when the GP has completed the work but the payment has not been made. Therefore, the fee must be paid in advance at the time of the request.