Following several recent incidents regarding non-NHS private work, Mersea Island Medical Practice is releasing the following statement.
Some services are not covered by the NHS and therefore you will be charged a fee should you wish for the work to be carried out by Mersea Island Medical Practice. The partner-doctors at Mersea Island Medical Practice are not employed by the NHS, they are self-employed, and as such they have to cover the business costs and overheads, in the same way as any other business. The fees charged by the practice for non-NHS work contributes to these costs. The money comes into the practice rather than any individual doctor and is reinvested to ensure we have adequate and suitable services available for all of the 8000 patients we serve.
General practice providers are not obliged to accept non-NHS private work. The acceptance of non-NHS private work is at the absolute discretion of the doctor. Whilst as a practice we will always attempt to assist our patients with the completion of forms and reports, we are not obliged to do. On that basis should a patient breach our zero tolerance policy regarding private fees, length of time to process request etc. the request will be rejected and you will be asked to access an alternative service provider to have your request fulfilled.
We would also like to take this opportunity to dispel some of the myths regarding time spent completing forms and preparing reports. Whilst on paper you may only require a doctor’s signature that does not mean that the time and work that goes into processing your request stops there. In almost all cases the patient’s full medical record will need to be checked which is very time consuming. Subsequent to signing forms or filling in reports doctors are also then held accountable for the information which they have either confirmed via signature or filled in via a report. As per the British Medical Association (BMA) ‘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. 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.’ On that basis it is imperative that sufficient time and resources are applied when fulfilling any non-NHS request, which can be time consuming.
Due to the heavy reliance on general practice by many other organisations, including other public sector services, the practice has no choice but to charge private fees for the non-NHS work it completes. The practice is unable to waive fees or offer discounts. Time spent completing forms and preparing reports takes the doctor away from the medical care of patients, however patient medical care will always take priority. Doctors have an ever increasing workload of forms which must be prioritised against offering appointments and other urgent administration. We aim to complete all non-NHS work within 28 days but on occasion this may take longer. You can make a request for your non-NHS form or report to be expedited, however this does incur an additional fee and it is not always available and is at the absolute discretion of the doctor. Fees are reviewed on a regular basis to ensure they are fair and appropriate, fees are increased in line with inflation or changes to form or report requirements.
Mersea Island Medical Practice is in a truly unique position. Due to efficient management and workforce planning we have adequate clinical capacity which enables us to fulfil our contractual NHS obligations as well as fulfilling almost all non-NHS private requests. As a practice we would like to thank our patients for their continued support and understanding that the doctors will always prioritise the medical care of patients above any non-NHS private request.