Why GPs Sometimes Charge Fees
Surely the doctor is being paid anyway?
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, 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 GPs covers medical services to NHS patients only , including the provision of ongoing medical treatment. In recent years, however, more and more organisations have been involving doctors in a whole range of non-medical work.
Recent changes in GPs private indemnity cover means some GPs are not covered to provide non-NHS work. Other non-NHS work is chargeable.
Examples of non-NHS services for which GPs can charge patients:
- accident or sickness certificates for insurance purposes
- school fee and holiday insurance certificates
Examples of non-NHS services for patients GPs can charge other institutions:
- 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 services) GPs do not have to carry out non-NHS work on behalf of their patients.
Whilst GP will always attempt to assist their patients, for example for insurance purposes, they are not require 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.
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?
Where possible we will inform a patient in advance if there is a charge however until the work has been completed it may be difficult to calculate the fee. Therefore a patient may have to be informed later.
What can I do to help?
Do not expect your GP to process forms overnight. Urgent requests may mean that a doctor has to make special arrangements to process the form quickly, and this is not always possible.
What type of report work doesn’t have to be done by my GP?
There is some medical examination and report work that can be done by any doctor, not only a patient’s GP. For this work there are no set or recommended fees which means doctors may set their own fees. We offer guidelines only.