Anger over £35 fee for a GP’s note
The case of a Houghton Regis patient on benefits said to have been charged £35 for a GP’s letter to a housing association has been raised in the House of Commons.
South West Beds MP Andrew Selous said he was “shocked” to hear that the man, who has mental health problems, had been asked to pay so much for the letter.
The MP felt this was “wrong” and said the £35 charge worked out at half the weekly amount paid to benefit recipients for income support or jobseeker’s allowance.
He said the letter was required by a benefit recipient subjected to anti-social behaviour by his neighbours.
In the Commons, Mr Selous asked: “May we have an early debate on the charges that some GPs impose on their low-income patients in relation to their housing needs?
“I was shocked to learn that one of my constituents was charged £35 for such a letter, which is half of his weekly benefit. That is wrong.”
Leader of the House of Commons Andrew Lansley said it was an important point. It would be investigated and the MP would receive a reply.
Mr Lansley said: “GPs are not in a position to charge their patients for any NHS services or to provide private healthcare services directly to their patients. However, under their contracts and by agreement, there are a number of additional services that they can provide to their patients that are outside those that are provided by the NHS.”
Later, Mr Selous said: “I have checked with my own GP surgery and they do not charge patients on low incomes for letters like this. I know that many GPs also do not charge and I would like to see all doctors’ surgeries locally adopting the same policy.”
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Thursday 20 June 2013
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