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 still exist in England and there is a number of other services for which fees are charged. Sometimes the charge is made to cover some of the cost of treatment, e.g. dental fees. In other cases it is because the service is not covered by the NHS, e.g. medical reports for insurance companies, claim forms for referral for private care, letters and forms which require the doctor to review the patient's medical records, etc.
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 at Oaklands Surgery charge their NHS patients are:
Certain travel vaccinations
Private medical insurance reports
Holiday cancellation claim forms
Examples of non-NHS services for which GPs at Oaklands Surgery charge other institutions are:
Medical reports for an insurance company
Some reports for the DWP/Benefits Agency
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 the doctor's signature!
When doctors sign a certificate or complete 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 medical record. Carelessness or an inaccurate report can have serious consequences for the doctor, with the General Medical Council or even the Police. The charge reflects either the time required to check information and/or the degree of responsibility in signing the document. If a form is required urgently (e.g. within 48 hours) then this will increase the charge.
Charges at Oaklands Surgery
At Oaklands Surgery we have a list of fees displayed at reception, and they are also listed below.
The fee must be paid in advance at the time the request for the letter or form to be completed is made or when the appointment for a medical is booked. We accept payment by cash, cheque or card. WE CANNOT MAKE ANY EXCEPTIONS.
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 will cost more.
Oaklands Surgery Fees