Your questions answered:
Isn’t the NHS supposed to be free?
The National Health Service (NHS) 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 is not covered by the NHS, for example, medical reports for insurance companies.
What is covered by the NHS and what is not?
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 accurate.
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. Most GPs have a very heavy workload and paperwork takes up an increasing amount of their time.
I only need the doctor’s signature-why do I have to pay?
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. It is a professional duty that the accuracy of information is checked. This may involve examining 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.
Please remember that not all documents need to be signed by a doctor. For example, a passport application could be signed by another person in a position of trust, such as a teacher or accountant, who may be willing to sign free of charge.
How are charges decided?
The British Medical Association recommends that GPs tell patients in advance if they will be charged. It is up to the individual practice to decide how much to charge. Minchinhampton Surgery carries out periodic reviews of charges at other surgeries both locally and nationally and endeavours to follow a fair charging policy.