Private (Non-NHS) Charges
Please note that there is usually a 10 working day turnaround from receiving a form to completion / collection.
Why do GPs charge fees?
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 are a number of other non-NHS services for which fees are charged eg 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.
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 time and 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 include the following:
- Medicals for pre-employment, sports and driving requirements (HGV, PSV etc.)
- Insurance claim forms
- Passport signing
- Prescriptions for taking medication abroad
- Private sick notes
- Vaccination certificates
Why does it sometimes take my GP a long time to complete my form?
Non-NHS work (checking notes, completing forms and preparing reports) is time-consuming and takes the GP away from the medical care of his/her patients. As most non-NHS work is not urgent we aim to complete non-NHS work within 10 working days.
Often patients complain that they only require a signature from the doctor. What is rarely considered is that when a when 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, which requires the doctor to check the patient's medical record. Naturally there is a charge for the time required to check information and/or the degree of responsibility in signing the document.
What can be done to avoid charges?
Not all documents need to be signed by a doctor. For example, a teacher, an accountant, etc may be willing to sign a passport application free of charge.
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.
Please see list of BMA recommended fees alongside the practice
Fees 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.