Why do I have to pay for some services?
The Government's contract with GPs covers medical services to NHS patients, including the provision of on-going medical treatment. In recent years, however, 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 ensure that information provided to them is true and accurate. 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 fees charged by GPs contribute towards their costs. This is also why you will be asked to make an appointment outside of the doctor’s NHS surgery time (e.g. at the end of the surgery).
Please note that we we have been informed by the government that we can no longer countersign passports.
We also do not complete housing applications
Does my GP have to do non-NHS work?
With certain limited exceptions, for example a GP confirming that one of their patients is not fit for jury service, GPs do not have to carry out non-NHS work on behalf of their patients. Whilst GPs will always attempt to assist their patients with the completion of forms, for example for insurance purposes, they are not required to do such non-NHS work.
Why does it take so long?
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. Priority is always given to medical care of patients.
But it’s just one signature!?
When a doctor signs a certificate or completes a report, it is a condition of remaining on the Medical Register 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. Carelessness or an inaccurate report can have serious consequences for the doctor with the General Medical Council (the doctors' regulatory body) or even the Police.
Please note, due to a change in Government policy doctors are unable to countersign passport application forms.