We’ve just released our report looking into the impact of inconsistent GP charges on disabled people who are seeking medical evidence to support benefit claims.
On hearing reports of people severely disadvantaged by GP charging for letters we raised the issue at a Disability Benefits Consortium Steering Group. With the help of National Association of Welfare Rights Advisers (NAWRA) our research found that charges varied between £5 and £150 for a letter, with £20-£30 being cited most often as the amount requested.
Whilst debate around the need for medical evidence to support benefit claims continues, our report makes the following recommendations:
- GP letters to support benefit claims should be covered by the GPs’ NHS contract.
- Until this comes into effect, local systems should create a small pot to cover these expenses, and there should be an agreed, consistent fee (at least within local areas) for providing this.
- GPs should have access to training about how to write an accurate and helpful letter.
- All GPs should be reminded of their obligations under GDPR.
- Correspondence from GPs to the DWP should be copied to claimants and their advisors.
We’ve sent our report to local partners and will report back on outcomes in due course. In the meantime, we will continue to work with our partners at Barnet Together and our Healthwatch team to raise awareness about this issue and listen to your experiences.