“Almost all of those charged for evidence (94%) believe their financial situation made their mental health problems worse. It’s likely charges by medical professionals, therefore, caused further mental distress. The vast majority of those charged had incomes of less than £300 per week. 4 in 10 had incomes of less than £200 per week”.
According to website, MoneySavingExpert, which started the campaign. Even these charges can wreak havoc with the mental health of people at their “lowest ebb” and are causing many to avoid asking for help
GPs are often the first point of call for patients facing benefits appeals.
There are other issues with a health element such as professional certifications or insurance forms ahead of marathons or a holiday which require a doctors note.
This can cause pressure on appointments and staff.
The situation is often made more stressful for patients when councils or insurers specify they require a GP signature.
It is possible, however, for other healthcare professionals to complete them.
A new five-year GP contract from April 2019 sets out that patients should be able to self-certify wherever possible using information from their medical record. This will be online from April.
MoneySavingExpert’s Martin Lewis said:
“We’re over the moon that the BMA has finally agreed to stop people with mental health and debt problems being charged for the paperwork they need to get help,”
“Often when they are at their lowest ebb. Leaving many avoiding asking for the help they desperately need.”
Dr. Richard Vautrey, chair of the BMA’s GP Committee, said that where self-certification wasn’t possible they were looking to reform regulation to allow other health professionals and support workers to help patients or a simplified form to save GP time.
“We want a solution that, where possible, empowers patients to provide their own evidence of their condition,” Dr. Vautrey said. “As GPs, we know that most patients want to be in charge of their own care.”
Where a more complex health report is needed, such as for a mortgage, the bank or lender should seek it and pay the fee, he added.
“People struggling with debt should seek help as early as possible.”
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