GPs charging for referral letters

(50 Posts)
NearTheWindmill Tue 18-Feb-14 21:21:22

I'm not sure if I'm being unreasonable but this irks. DD has a problem with an ingrowing toe-nail (quite nasty) and the chiropodist has recommended a general surgeon who is good with kids. We have health insurance. GP happily agreed to refer and has advised there will be a £30 charge for the referral letter.

As far as I am aware the waiting list for this minor procedure on the NHS is pretty long but if dd had to have this done on the NHS the dr would have to write a referral anyway.

It just seems a bit cheeky - and cheekier still that the receptionist told me I can phone tomorrow to see if it's ready. I'd have thought that if I'm being charged, they should be phoning me.

fivefourtime Wed 19-Feb-14 04:43:25

If it's paperwork they have to do for non-NHS related stuff then it's only fair that they charge, I'm afraid! I do agree with the person who said that it sucks that the waiting lists are long enough for you to have to go private, but I would still be happy to fork out in this case.

macdoodle Tue 18-Feb-14 23:40:47

I think you're being ridiculous.

NearTheWindmill Tue 18-Feb-14 23:32:53

I'm glad to hear that divergirl77 because what irritated me much more than the charge was the response to my "when will it be ready?" which was "I dunno, phone up tomorrow after 2 and see if it's done".

divegirl77 Tue 18-Feb-14 23:27:47

The Practices secretary(s) is employed by the GPs (who are usually self-employed and run a small business) rather than directly by the NHS. We employ them to do what ever secretarial work we want them to do for how ever many hours they are employed, these may be NHS or private letters or insurance reports or invoices for travel imms etc etc. If we need them to do more work than fits into the usual then we would pay them overtime.

In my Practice if someone has asked for a non NHS letter/form etc for which we are charging then our reception team would call when it is ready (however this be later the same day or even the next day depending on how busy they are with other things).

Paintyfingers Tue 18-Feb-14 23:27:27

Girl, I believe passionately in excellent free healthcare.

Unfortunately what we have is free patchy healthcare - sometimes excellent and sometimes downright awful.

I had excellent world class maternity care having DS - wonderful mw and caring, competent staff throughout.

However, I am also sick and tired of having to put right errors in my care - eg my bloods bagged incorrectly using another patient's label which could have left my thyroid under corrected in pg, mc care so poor I had to report to pals and my treatment was the main item discussed at the EPU's internal management meeting. Being told I would have to wait until 15.5 weeks for an ERPC in a pg where mmc was first suspected at 9 weeks was not in the end considered acceptable.

Or the waiting list for ds's ent op where his speech was being very badly affected due to hearing loss? Private care meant he had the op almost 5 months earlier than he would have done on the nhs by the time you factor in the waits for paed audiology, consultant and the surgery. At 2 that is quite significant.

Helpyourself Tue 18-Feb-14 23:27:09

Aha. Hope you get it sorted soon. Poor Dd had about three courses of antibiotics over a year before we asked for a referral to the foot clinic, then it was plain sailing.

NearTheWindmill Tue 18-Feb-14 23:23:31

And we can't self-refer - our policy specifically requires a GP referral. It never used to but it does now.

NearTheWindmill Tue 18-Feb-14 23:22:30

helpyourself it's about timing; you are right - not any perception of quality of treatment at all. Also, if the NHS offers an appointment in three weeks, we'd have to say no because we need it to dovetail with school holidays, etc.

NearTheWindmill Tue 18-Feb-14 23:19:55

But could any of the GPs respond to my point about being the one to chase the letter please. If I pay a fee for the GP to write the letter privately then surely the GP should ensure that his staff call me to let me know the letter is ready rather than the other way round.

I don't know what's right or wrong but I in my heart I feel we are so often told the NHS is on its needs and under resourced that I feel we are being helpful to it to have insurance for treatment we need and for which we have also paid tax to receive but have waived our right to have it. In that case when a referral would have to be written anyway if we accessed NHS treatment I don't really see the logic of the charge but I am happy to pay it if that's what it takes. But having paid for a private letter I do object to being barked at NHS style by the receptionist.

Also, if the practice's admin types the letter, does the Dr pay them a little extra for the private one hmm.

ibelieveinangels Tue 18-Feb-14 23:19:43

I work in a surgery and we do not charge to do a private referral.

divegirl77 Tue 18-Feb-14 23:17:56

I don't charge a fee for private referral letters (as I would be dictating the letter anyway), but I do charge if BUPA etc want me to fill out their forms which I would not otherwise do so and are certainly not included in what the NHS pays me to do. It does actually cost my (and probably most GP's) income directly for every private referral even if only a minimal amount in the cost of a fax or paper, envelope and stamp as the vast majority of my NHS referrals are uploaded electronically.

Helpyourself Tue 18-Feb-14 23:16:08

Is it worth going private windy DD was seen by our GP, referred to the foot clinic and had the operation within a month- and that would have been quicker but we scheduled it for when she had frees and pe.
Or could you not self refer? I've had an operation on BUPA and don't remember by GP referring me, I'm pretty sure I went straight to their dr from the helpline.

TheGirlWithTheArabStrap Tue 18-Feb-14 23:08:15

Yes Painty but if we hope to retain a NHS that is free at the point of service and that has any chance of being able to maintain its services to an effective level, it needs money to be spent on it. You can't just magic up doctors and nurses. It just depends if you believe if everyone deserves health care or just those who can afford it.

Paintyfingers Tue 18-Feb-14 22:55:46

By that logic girl, reducing waste in the nhs doesn't save the nhs money as the nhs would just get its budget reduced by the same amount.

The point is that less taxpayers' money is spent.

alarkthatcouldpray Tue 18-Feb-14 22:03:05

I have never charged for a private referral nor worked in a practice where it has happened. Seems odd to me.

TheGirlWithTheArabStrap Tue 18-Feb-14 21:57:11

It isn't saving the NHS money to refer patients to the private system. The NHS hospital you would be referred to has its budget based on the number of procedures/referrals it does/gets. If people take their referrals out of the NHS the amount of money the NHS service gets is reduced.

Bourdic Tue 18-Feb-14 21:55:38

bma.org.uk/-/media/files/pdfs/practical%2520advice%2520at%2520work/ethics/interfaceguidanceethicsmay2009.pdf

Sorry- will blue it this time - I am just so outraged by those of you who think this is OK

Bourdic Tue 18-Feb-14 21:53:08

make a complaint a

Bourdic Tue 18-Feb-14 21:52:26

http://bma.org.uk/-/media/files/pdfs/practical%2520advice%2520at%2520work/ethics/interfaceguidanceethicsmay2009.pdf

I am really shocked at some of the responses on here - the GP is behaving completely wrongly and you should make a c

Paintyfingers Tue 18-Feb-14 21:50:01

Bourdic thanks so much for posting that - we have had to go private for DS ops a few times due to waiting lists and I was shocked to see here that GPS might charge for this.

Paintyfingers Tue 18-Feb-14 21:48:12

Harriet, if it wasn't a private referral they would just be writing exactly the same letter but to an nhs consultant as the referral would still go ahead. So no extra time is spent doing the private referral and public money is saved as the nhs consultant slot can go to another patient.

Bourdic Tue 18-Feb-14 21:48:03

Can NHS GPs charge their patients for referral or information?
GPs may not charge their NHS patients for private referrals, nor may they charge for the provision of relevant information to other doctors providing care for the patient

Will post reference shortly -it's from the BMA

My GP has never charged for private referrals for DS. IMO, she only copies the nhs ones she's written.

horseycoursey Tue 18-Feb-14 21:46:29

Yanbu. My GP charges £35 for a referral. BUPA were horrified by this, as the BUPA form takes two minutes to complete, requires several boxes to be ticked and a signature only. It takes less time than an NHS referral. My surgery GPs are being greedy in charging imo, a letter maybe should be charged, but to tick three or four boxes and sign? Pure greed.

Next time I'll ask for an NHS referral, it'll take the GP longer.

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