GPs can no longer charge patients for debt and mental health forms

GPs in England can no longer charge patients for completing debt and mental health evidence forms, following the introduction of a new shortened version of the form today.

(Photo: Francesco Carta fotografo/Getty Images)
(Photo: Francesco Carta fotografo/Getty Images)

As part of an arrangement under the five-year GP contract, the BMA agreed that practices would stop charging patients when the new form was introduced.

Under the agreement the membership bodies for banks and debt collectors, UK Finance and the Credit Services Association, said that lenders would only request the information from GPs as a last resort.

The BMA said that it now expected creditors and debt advisers to trust customers' own accounts of their mental health conditions 'and only ask for evidence if absolutely necessary'. It added that if evidence was required a prescription, appointment letter or benefits letter could be used to confirm a person's diagnosis, rather than requiring a GP to complete the form.

If the individual has none of these, then a GP may still need to complete the form. However, GPC chair Dr Richard Vautrey said that the new version was shorter and clearer.

He added: 'We want to empower patients by encouraging the use of self-certification and reduce the need for GP practice involvement in these situations, but we hope that, where that's not possible, this updated form will now make things quicker and easier for those to get the help they need and deserve.'

Debt and mental health

At the time the contract agreement was announced in February, the BMA said that if there were situations where a more complex report was required, the lender involved should ask the GP to complete the report and the lender, rather than the patient, should ‘pay an appropriate fee’.

The debt and mental health evidence form was introduced by advice organisations and credit firms to enable people with mental health conditions to request easier repayment terms or reduced charges on debt.

There are versions of the form in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland that are not covered by this agreement. However, the BMA previously said that it hoped when the new system was established in England it would be reviewed and considered in the other three nations.

The new agreement comes in response to the Money and Mental Health Policy Institute's Stop the Charge campaign, which launched over two years ago. Research by the organisation found that around one in three people with mental health problems who asked a GP to complete the debt and mental health form were charged for it.

The charity said that the charge was preventing some people from getting help to resolve their debts, while others were going without food or heating to pay for the charge.

In a blog published earlier this week, Money and Mental Health chief executive Helen Undy said: 'This new process only applies in England, and we want to stop the charge right across the UK. We’ll be stepping up our work with the devolved nations over the coming months to ensure that we can get the same approach adopted everywhere.'

Have you registered with us yet?

Register now to enjoy more articles and free email bulletins

Register

Already registered?

Sign in

Follow Us:

Just published

GPs demand government review into unprecedented demand on general practice

GPs demand government review into unprecedented demand on general practice

GPs have demanded an urgent review into soaring demand on general practice, after...

Vaccination sites to offer Pfizer or Moderna vaccine to pregnant women

Vaccination sites to offer Pfizer or Moderna vaccine to pregnant women

Vaccination sites have been told to offer pregnant women the Moderna or Pfizer COVID-19...

Fifth of adults fully vaccinated against COVID-19 as UK hits 10m second dose milestone

Fifth of adults fully vaccinated against COVID-19 as UK hits 10m second dose milestone

More than 10m people UK-wide have received both doses of COVID-19 vaccine - just...

Coronavirus: Key guidance GPs need to know about COVID-19

Coronavirus: Key guidance GPs need to know about COVID-19

GPonline provides an overview of the key guidance relating to coronavirus, including...

UK COVID-19 vaccination programme tracker

UK COVID-19 vaccination programme tracker

GPs across the UK are playing a leading role in the largest-ever NHS vaccination...

Viewpoint: Why NICE guidance on domestic abuse needs to be updated

Viewpoint: Why NICE guidance on domestic abuse needs to be updated

Dr Vasumathy Sivarajasingam explains why screening for domestic abuse should be standard...