Why do GPs charge fees?
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, for example, dental fees. In other cases, it is because the service isn’t covered by the NHS, for example, medical reports for insurance companies, claims on private health insurance and other letters and forms which require the doctor to review the patient’s medical records.
It is important to understand that 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 pays the doctor for specific NHS work, but for non NHS work the fee has to cover the doctor’s costs. The Government’s contract with GPs covers medical services to NHS patients. In recent years, more and more organisations have been involving doctors in a whole range of non medical 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 be sure that information provided is true and correct.
Examples of non NHS services for which GPs can charge patients:
- Certain travel vaccinations
- Private medical insurance reports
- Holiday cancellation forms
- Letters requested by, or on behalf, of a patient
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 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 or even the Police.
What will I be charged?
The BMA recommends that patients are told in advance that a charge may be made. The BMA also gives some guidance to doctors on the amount to be charged. Please view the latest copy of our charges for non NHS work.
The Practice is VAT registered (VAT Number 879063483). Since 2007, some medical services have become subject to VAT. In certain circumstances, therefore, VAT may be added to the charge made.
The doctors are willing to sign private health claim forms, but a charge will be made for this.