The Money Advice Trust, the charity that runs National Debtline, has today welcomed a commitment from the British Medical Association that GPs will no longer charge patients for issuing the Debt and Mental Health Evidence Form.
The practice of GPs charging for the form, which provides a mechanism for people with mental health problems to access support from their creditors, has been the subject of two years of campaigning by the Money and Mental Health Policy Institute.
Following a commitment from the Prime Minister to end the charges in January 2017, the Money Advice Trust joined the Money and Mental Health Policy Institute and organisations from across the mental health, money advice and creditor sectors on a Department of Health Working Group to find a solution to the problem.
The British Medical Association has now made a commitment that GPs will stop charging for the form, which was created by the Money Advice Liaison Group, as part of the new Five Year GP contract recently agreed with NHS England.
Chris Fitch, Money Advice Trust Vulnerability Lead and Research Fellow at the University of Bristol Personal Finance Research Centre, said: “When we designed the form our aim was simple – give debt advisers and creditors the information they need to help people in often terrible situations. However, the charges levied by some GPs for providing this evidence often stopped this help being given.
“Today’s announcement means that this charging should stop. This makes total sense. If you are already in financial difficulty, struggling with your mental health, how can you pay GPs for this evidence? And how can you recover from your mental health problems when you’ve got financial difficulty hanging over you?
“This achievement is a testament to the Money and Mental Health Policy Institute’s tireless campaigning, and also to members of the Money Advice Liaison Group for creating the form in the first place.
“The next step is to revise the form to make it easier and quicker for GPs and other professionals to complete, and then to see a similar end to GP charges in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, too.”