Private Charges & Non-NHS Services

Some of the services available at Thursby Surgery are not NHS services, and as a result, if you need one of these services, you may be charged for them.

I thought the NHS was free?

The National Health Service provides most health care to people free of charge. However, there a small number of exceptions. Prescription charges have been in effect since 1951 and there are also a number of other services that can be charged for.
These services may be charges to cover some of the cost of the treatment, for example; Dental treatment fees.
In other cases, it can be because the service required is not covered by the NHS, such as providing copies of medical records or producing copies of medical records for an insurance company.

Are the Doctors not paid anyway?

Many GPs are not employed by the NHS, and are in face self-employed and have to cover their own costs - in the same way that a small business would.
The NHS will cover the cost of any NHS work, however, for any non-NHS work, there is no payment from the NHS.
The fees charged by a GP will contribute towards their costs in these cases.

What is Covered by the NHS and What is Not Covered?

GPs are contracted by the UK Government to cover medical services to NHS patients, this includes the provision of ongoing medical treatment.
In more recent times, however, organisations have been involving Doctors in more and more non-medical work. The reasons for these can be; because and insurance company or your employer is wanting to obtain true, accurate and up-to-date information, nor because the GPs are seen as in a position of trust within a community.

Below are some examples of non-NHS services which a GP may charge their own NHS patients;

 - Reports for health clubs to certify that patients are fit to exercise
 - Private prescriptions (E.g.. Maria tablets)
 - Pre-employment checks
 - Taxi Driver/HGV medical tests


Does my GP have to do non-NHS work for their patients?

GPs do not have to carry out non-NHS work on behalf of their patients. There are certain exceptions, such as; a GP confirming a patient is not fit for Jury service.
Whilst GPs will always attempt to assist their patients with the completion of forms, for example; for insurance purposes, they are not required to do non-NHS work.

Who sets the fees for non-NHS work?

The British Medical Association (BMA) suggests that a GP may charge their patients for any non-NHS work (Work not covered under their contract with the NHS) in order to help a GP set their own professional fees.
These fees are suggested by the BMA are intended for guidance only; they are not recommendations and a GP is not obliged to charge the rates suggested.

I only need the GP's signature - why do I need to pay?

When a GP signs a certificate or completes a medical report, is a condition of remaining on the Medical Register that they only sign that which they know to be correct and true.
In order to complete a form, even the simplest of forms, the GP may have to check the patients entire medical record. Any carelessness or inaccurate report can have serious consiquences for the GP with the General Medical Council (This is the Doctor's regulatory body) or even the police.

Is there anything I can do to help?

Not all documents require a signature from a GP, for example; passport applications - you can ask another person in a position of trust or someone who can identify you (A person who has known you for over 2 years).
If you have several forms that require completion, make sure that they are all presented at the same time and ask your GP if he/she is prepared to complete them at the same time, to speed up the process.
Do not expect your GP to process the forms overnight; urgent requests may mean a GP has to make special arrangements to process the form(s) quickly, and this may cost more.

What will I be charged?

The British Medical Association (BMA) recommends that practices tell patients in advanced if they will be charged, and what the fee charged will be.
It is up to the individual practices to decide how much they will charge, but the BMA produces lists of suggested fees, which many practices use.

For more information on GP fees, click here