Why GP’s Sometimes Charge Fees
The 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 the cost of treatment, e.g. dental fees; in others because the service is not covered by the NHS, e.g. providing copies of health records or producing medical reports for insurance companies. See below a list of some of the services that are charged for:
- Accident/sickness certificates for insurance services
- Holiday insurance certificates
- Reports to health clubs to certify that patients are fit to exercise
- Life assurance and income protection reports for insurance companies
- Reports for the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP)
- Medical reports for local authorities in connection with adoption and fostering
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, 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.
With certain limited exceptions, e.g. a GP confirming that one of their patients is not fit for jury service, GPs do not have to carry out non-NHS work for their patients. Whilst GPs will always attempt to assist their patients with the completion of forms, e.g. for insurance purposes, they are not required to do such non-NHS work.
The BMA suggests fees that GPs may charge their patients for non NHS work, these are set as a guide and the doctor is not obliged to charge the rates the BMA suggests.
For more information about the BMA guidelines and suggested non NHS fees please click here. If you have a form or a question about a form that may require a charge, please contact the surgery and you will be advised about the fee.