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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: Prescription charges have existed since 1951, and there are a number of other services for which fees are charged. It is because these services are 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 our 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 their NHS patients are:

  • Letters requested by, or on behalf of, the patient
  • Accident/ sickness insurance certificates and reports
  • Certain travel vaccinations
  • Private medical insurance reports
  • Holiday cancellation claim forms
  • Referral for private care forms Certificates for fitness to start a diet regime or join a gym
  • Medicals for HGV/ taxi/ PSV/ elderly drivers
  • Diving licence forms
  • Private sick notes

Examples of non-NHS services for which GPs can charge other institutions are:

  • Medical reports for an insurance company
  • Some reports for the DSS/Benefits Agency
  • Examinations of 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 heavy workload and paperwork takes up an increasing amount of their time. Meeting the needs of patients' medical problems obviously takes priority.

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. 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

What will I be charged?

The BMA recommends that GPs tell patients in advance if they will be charged, and how much. It is up to the individual Practice to decide how much to charge, but the BMA produces lists of suggested fees for the Doctors to use as a guideline.

Charges at Horsmans Place Surgery

We have a list of fees displayed in the waiting room. They are also listed below.

This list is a brief guide to the fees we charge and does not cover requests for other services which fall outside the NHS such as letters for solicitors, employers, schools, universities etc. The content and time taken for these letters is variable so we advise agreeing the fee with your doctor although in some circumstances this should be payable by the business requesting the report and not the patient.

Private Charges: March 2019

Fees For Non-NHS Services

Certificates, letters and Claim Forms
Short private letter £30
Private sick note £15
Driving Licence photo endorsement £30
Freedom from Infection certificate £20
Private health insurance claim form (BUPA, PPP, etc) £25
Sickness or Accident benefit claim form £40
Other insurance claim form £25
Health club – fit to exercise £40
Diet club – patient fit to start diet £40
Medical Examinations and reports
Pre-employment, HGV, LGV, PSV, taxi driver, elderly driver, racing driver medical examinations £85-100
Sports medical examination £85
Report from records for employer/insurance co. Starting at £70
Seat belt exemption £20
Parachute jump/pilots licence full medical required [at doctors discretion] £85
To Whom it May Concern Letter £45
Access to records under Data Protection Act
Computerised records only £10
Paper or combination of paper/computer records £50
Foreign travel
Vaccination certificate £15
Holiday cancellation certificate £40
Fitness to travel certificate £40
Fitness to travel examination and certificate/report £60
Private prescription for drugs required solely for purpose of travel abroad £15
Local Services, Let
Local Services, Let