MNHQ have commented on this thread.

MumsnetGuestPosts (MNHQ) Wed 13-Jan-21 16:08:19

Time to scrap the £150 fee for victims of domestic abuse

GPs are currently able to charge the victims of domestic abuse up to £150 for the legal aid referral letters that they need to claim legal aid. Lord Kennedy says it’s time to Scrap The Fee.

Lord Kennedy of Southwark

Shadow Spokesperson for Home Affairs

Posted on: Wed 13-Jan-21 16:08:19

(85 comments )

Lead photo

“GPs can charge the victims of domestic abuse up to £150 for legal aid referral letters”

Two women are killed each week by a current or former partner and one in four will experience domestic violence in their lifetime.

Legal Aid is a lifeline for women fleeing domestic abuse. It helps them to protect themselves, their children and secures their financial situation. One of the accepted forms of evidence is a letter from a GP.

Since 2016 I have been raising in the House of Lords the outrageous situation whereby GPs can charge the victims of domestic abuse up to £150 for legal aid referral letters that confirm their injuries are a result of abuse thereby enabling the victim to apply for legal aid.

Successive Ministers from the Despatch Box have expressed support for the charges to be waived, but have not taken the opportunity to end this practice. Some GP practices have voluntarily rewritten their charging policies when light has been shone on this little-known fact.

To get this amendment passed in the House of Lords and to be accepted in the House of Commons we need a campaign both inside and outside Parliament


It is true that the majority of GPs do not charge for these letters, but the fact is that a significant minority do and despite all the calls for this to stop, expressions of support for victims, and even the British Medical Association having a policy that no victim of domestic abuse should be charged a fee for a legal aid referral letter. The practise continues to this day.

It was Wythenshawe Safespots, a campaigning organisation based in Manchester, that first alerted people to this dreadful situation and started the campaign to Scrap the Fee.

The Domestic Abuse Bill has recently started its passage through the House of Lords, and I am hopeful that the Bill will be improved during its passage through the Lords with many changes agreed before returning to the House of Commons.

On Monday I tabled a new clause to the Bill which will stop GPs who have a contract with the NHS from charging victims of abuse for legal aid referral letters.

To get this amendment passed in the House of Lords and to be accepted in the House of Commons we need a campaign both inside and outside Parliament to highlight how wrong these charges are, calling on members of both Houses to finally deal with this issue and commit to scrapping the fee once and for all.

It is everyone’s responsibility to play their part to stop domestic violence and abuse and this is the right thing to do on an issue that has been ignored for far too long. There just needs to be the will in Government and Parliament to do it.

By Lord Kennedy of Southwark

Twitter: @LordRoyKennedy

Clymene Wed 13-Jan-21 17:25:41

I support you wholeheartedly. Who are you?

CuriousaboutSamphire Wed 13-Jan-21 17:36:19

Good God, whoever you are!

I thought that had been done away with already. Maybe the BMA decision made me think it was over!

Footle Wed 13-Jan-21 17:41:59

I didn't know,about this and can't imagine how any doctor feels justified in charging, in these circumstances.

Ereshkigalangcleg Wed 13-Jan-21 17:42:33

Yes, you have my full support. What can we do to help?

Sethy38 Wed 13-Jan-21 17:44:08

*GPs can charge the victims of domestic abuse up to £150 for legal aid referral letters that confirm their injuries are a result of abuse thereby enabling the victim to apply for legal aid. *

Key word

CAN charge

I would be very interested as to how many (if ever) this has actually been charged.

No data provided by this Lord, which says it all.

geekaMaxima Wed 13-Jan-21 17:46:30

Ffs @Sethy38, does it really matter how many?

One is too many.

It should not be allowed. End of.

Advertisement

Collaborate Wed 13-Jan-21 17:48:18

This is something any right-thinking person can get behind. Writing such a letter to help a patient who is a victim of DV get legal representation is not something that should be charged for. It should be considered part and parcel of a GP's exercise of duty of care.

Interestingly enough the family legal aid charging rates haven't increased for around 20 years or so if memory serves me right. I'm sure GPs have had regular pay rises since then.

Just want to say though that GP's are also shat upon by this government in many ways.

Lifeaintalwaysempty Wed 13-Jan-21 17:48:48

100% support, what do you need support with

sabrinathemiddleagewitch Wed 13-Jan-21 17:52:23

Is there something we can sign to support in this?

Regardless of how many charge, the fact it is an option should be abolished

Orf1abc Wed 13-Jan-21 17:58:59

My GP surgery charges for this. My old GP would write letters for no charge in his own time, rather than them go through the surgery and charge people. Unfortunately he has now retired and the remaining partners charge the maximum possible fee for any letters.

Marsbardelight Wed 13-Jan-21 18:15:55

geekaMaxima

Ffs *@Sethy38*, does it really matter how many?

One is too many.

It should not be allowed. End of.


Exactly this!

highame Wed 13-Jan-21 18:19:14

I will write to my MP for starters, because he can back this amendment

Sethy38 Wed 13-Jan-21 18:21:27

Oh I totally agree overturned

But

I am just skeptical as to the notification of a male Lord, who I’m guessing really is very far removed from this issue.

Decides to take it up.

But 100% should be overturned.

Sethy38 Wed 13-Jan-21 18:21:37

Motivation

HecatesCats Wed 13-Jan-21 18:28:07

I think it relates to this:

https://victimscommissioner.org.uk/news/gps-charging-domestic-abuse-victims-up-to-150-to-confirm-injuries/

zombieaccount Wed 13-Jan-21 18:43:48

@MumsnetGuestPosts What do you need us to do?

RowanMumsnet (MNHQ) Wed 13-Jan-21 18:50:22

Hello

First off, apologies to those of you viewing on the Talk app who can't see who the post author is - our bad. It's Lord Kennedy of Southwark - you can see his Twitter here.

Second - if you support amending the Domestic Abuse bill to take account of this please email your MP and ask them to support the amendment when the bill returns to the Commons. (We'll try to get more specific info about the amendment for you and post it up here ASAP)

marcella64 Wed 13-Jan-21 18:50:52

I work with and am a victim of DA, never in my 9 years of frontline work have I heard of a fee!

If this is a valid claim please take it to safe lives charity.

Clymene Wed 13-Jan-21 18:56:59

Thanks @RowanMumsnet. I will contact my MP.

Babyroobs Wed 13-Jan-21 19:51:27

Hospital Drs used to be able to charge for signing death certificates years ago, not sure whether they still can. i worked on a ward where there were a lot of deaths and there would be one Dr who was always there early on a monday to cash in on the weekend deaths. In my job now I have to deal with forms that go to the DWP to say someone is terminally ill and some Drs still try to claim for signing those. Seems so wrong to me. The Nurses sign the same forms and either aren't allowed to claim the fee or wouldn't dream of doing so.

Babyroobs Wed 13-Jan-21 19:54:34

Orf1abc

My GP surgery charges for this. My old GP would write letters for no charge in his own time, rather than them go through the surgery and charge people. Unfortunately he has now retired and the remaining partners charge the maximum possible fee for any letters.

It's awful. I work with vulnerable people who often need letters writing to support their disability benefit claims or appeals and Gp's try to charge. These are more often than not people on the lowest incomes/ benefits due to sickness and disability. I know it time consuming and they are busy but it should be free. Half the time people are denied disability benefit awards through no fault of their own and need these support letters writing just to get what they are eleigible for.

Joshnlibsmum Wed 13-Jan-21 21:12:05

This fee needs to be nationally scrapped by including these letters in the NHS contract. Many GPs do waive the fee, but it is worth noting that every unit of activity GPs undertake is billed somewhere, whether through standards or the contract. From a GP perspective this is a letter for legal aid to allow a solicitor to be paid to represent a victim of violence or abuse so by doing it for free they are essentially giving their time so another profession can be paid for theirs. This charge absolutely shouldn't come from the victim, but should come from government. While many GP practices don't charge, many do and it shouldn't be a postcode lottery, where even one woman ends up unable to access legal aid because of the fee.
@marcella64 this fee is absolutely real in many areas and the chief executive of Safelives Susan Jacob backed this campaign last week in an interview for the Telegraph which was also published in the Independent .

Thelnebriati Wed 13-Jan-21 21:57:27

Will this thread be stickied on other boards?

Anotherlovelybitofsquirrel Wed 13-Jan-21 22:06:41

You have my full support. How dare they charge. Despicable.

Join the discussion

To comment on this thread you need to create a Mumsnet account.

Join Mumsnet

Already have a Mumsnet account? Log in