The Practice makes a charge for all non-NHS work which is not covered by the GP's NHS Contract. Our Private Fees List indicates what you might expect to be charged for these services. Private certificates, reports and forms are usually ready for collection in approximately 10 working days. Your doctor may ask to see you in person if your request is regarding a fitness to attend/take part in/travel certificate.
Why am I being charged for non-NHS services?
The National Health Service provides most health care to eligable people free of charge, but there are exceptions: prescription charges; dental fees; eye test. In other cases, it is because the service is not covered by the NHS, for example, medical reports for insurance companies.
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 covers these costs for NHS work, but for non-NHS work the fee has to cover the doctor's costs.
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. Sometimes the only reason that GPs are asked is because they are in a position of trust in the community, or because an insurance company or employer wants to be sure that information provided is true and accurate.
Examples of non-NHS services for which GPs can charge their NHS patients are:
- accident/sickness/fitness to attend or travel insurance certificates
- certain travel vaccinations
- private medical insurance reports
Examples of non-NHS services for which GPs can charge other institutions are:
- medical reports for an insurance company
- some reports for the DSS/Benefits Agency
- examinations of local authority employees
The BMA suggests fees for non-NHS work which is not covered under a GP’s NHS contract, to help GPs set their own professional fees. However, these fees are guidelines only, not recommendations, and a doctor is not obliged to charge the rates suggested. The BMA recommends that GPs tell patients in advance if they will be charged, and how much.
Time spent completing forms and preparing reports takes the GP away from the medical care of his or her patients. Most GPs have a very heavy workload and paperwork takes up an increasing amount of their time, so many GPs find they have to take some paperwork home at night and weekends.
When a doctor signs a certificate or completes a report, professional standards require that they only sign what they know to be true. In order to complete even the simplest of forms, therefore, the doctor might have to check the patient's entire medical record.
Do not expect your GP to process forms overnight: urgent requests may mean that a doctor has to make special arrangements to process the form quickly, and this will cost more.
Not all documents need signature by a doctor, for example passport applications. You can ask another person in a position of trust to sign such documents free of charge.