Scottish LMCs call time on 'get a letter from the GP' culture

GPs have called on the government to encourage public and private sector organisations to scrap demands for patients to have letters from their doctor to access services.

LMC leaders meeting at their annual conference in Clydebank said they were disappointed by the continuing culture where organisations require people to obtain a letter from their GP.

GPs voted to call on Scottish and UK governments to promote and encourage a ‘common sense approach that removes the need for a GP letter.

LMCs also called for a ‘plain English’ website to explain to the public which letters and certificates they are and are not entitled on the NHS.

However, the conference rejected a call to abolish all requirements and requests for GP letters to support benefit claims.

GP bureaucracy

Proposing the motion Dr Jim O’Neill from Glasgow LMC said his practice had developed a letter to for patients to pass to requesting organisations explaining they will have to contact the practice and pay a fee.

Dr O’Neill said: ‘I think GPs should support benefits claims when necessary. But is this ever a requirement? If there are requests for further information, this must be done by a professional written request, not the benefits agency telling the patient to get a letter.’

Dr Amy Small from Lothian LMC said there was a ‘systemic injustice’ of some practices and not others providing letters because letters do affect the patient's chance of a successful claim.

‘It’s no wonder some of our colleagues do this work for free as it feels wrong on so many levels that we should charge for this work given the circumstances.’

Photo: iStock

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