Why are fees charged?
The government's contract with GPs covers medical services to NHS patients. However, in recent years more and more organisations have been involving doctors in a wide range of non NHS work. This work is not funded by the government, so GPs have to charge a fee to cover their time and other expenses.
Surely the doctor is being paid anyway?
It is important to understand that many GPs are not employed by the NHS. They are self-employed and they have to cover the costs of everything from the limited NHS funds provided - staff wages, buildings, heating, lighting, etc - in the same way as any small business. The NHS covers costs for NHS work, but not for non-NHS work, the fees charged by GPs contribute towards keeping the surgery running.
Do GPs have to do non-NHS work for their patients?
With certain limited exceptions, GPs do not have to carry our non-NHS work. Many GPs however will always attempt to assist their patients and carry out this work.
Why does it sometimes take my GP a long time to complete my form/letter?
Time spent completing forms & preparing reports takes the GP away from the medical care of patients which will always have top priority. GPs have an ever increasing workload of forms which must be prioritised against offering appointments and other urgent administration. We aim to complete non-NHS work within two weeks of reciept.
I only need the GP's signature - what's the problem?
When a GP signs a certificate, completes a report or writes a letter it is a condition of remaining on the medical register (which allows them to practice as a doctor), that they only sign what they know to be true. In order to complete even the simplest of forms, the doctor may have to check a patient's entire medical record.