GPs are no longer able to charge patients with a mental health condition for completing a debt and mental health evidence form, following the introduction of a new shortened version of the form at the beginning of this month.
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. GPs will provide evidence of a patient’s condition for free, but by using a shortened version of the form.
A form can only be requested by lenders as a ‘last resort.’
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 form 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 an evidence form 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.
Lenders need to look at other evidence first.
individual has no other means of evidence, 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.
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
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.”
In 2017, then Prime Minister Theresa May announced a formal review into the practice of charging mental health patients for their debt form after it was revealed that some GPs might claim up to £150 to sign these.
From the start of this month patients with mental health illness no longer need to pay for their GP to prove their illness.
Debt and mental health.
The BMA argued
that the forms, which can cost between £30 and £150, could exacerbate both the
debt and the mental health state of these patients, with research showing that
around one in three people have been charged for them.
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.
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.
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.
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