Non-NHS (Private) Services
The NHS does not pay for all services relating to completion of forms and reports and accordingly the Practice makes a charge.
Click here for our list of charges
Why do GPs 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, for example 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, claim forms for referral for private care and other letters and forms which require the doctor to review the patient’s medical records.
Surely the doctor is being paid anyway?
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.
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.
Examples of non-NHS services for which GPs can charge are:
- Certain travel vaccinations
- Private medical insurance reports
- Holiday cancellation claim forms
- Referral for private care forms
- Letters requested by, or on behalf of, the patient
- Examples of non-NHS services for which GPs can charge other institutions are:
- Medical reports for an insurance company
- Examinations for local authority employees
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. GPs have a very heavy workload and paperwork takes up an increasing amount of their time.
I only need a 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. Therefore, in order to complete even the simplest of forms, the doctor needs 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 can I do to help?
- Not all documents need to be signed by a doctor, for example, passport applications. You can ask another person in a position of trust to sign such documents free of charge.
- Don’t make appointments to request forms or letters. Such requests can be made to the receptionists.
- Don’t ask for reports or letters that are not required. We are advised by many organisations, for example, housing, schools and probation, that letters are not required. If these organisations do need information from your medical record you can request a summary printout which is free of charge.
- 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 may cost more.