GPs to stop charging for mental health forms
The move follows a two year campaign by the Money and Mental Health Policy Institute, set up by Martin Lewis of MoneySavingExpert. The ‘Stop the Charge’ campaign was launched in response to findings that one in three people with mental health problems who asked a GP to complete the form were charged for it.
Charges were usually between £30 to £50, but could be up to £100 and stopped people getting help to resolve their debt problems. Debt problems and poor mental health often go hand in hand. The Royal College of Psychiatrists says one in two adults with debts has a mental health problem and one in four people with a mental health problem is also in debt.
GPs have said they will stop charging for the paperwork when a shorter and simplified version of the form is introduced, which will make it easier and quicker to complete.
At the same time, the UK Finance and the Credit Services Association – the membership bodies for UK banks and debt collectors – have agreed to recommend that firms only request the forms as a last resort.
Peter Wallwork, chief executive of the Credit Services Association (CSA), said: “We very much welcome this positive step by the BMA in helping consumers in financial difficulty, and the acknowledgment of the MMHPI of our industry’s involvement in finding a successful solution.
“It has long been the policy of CSA members to accept any form of relevant evidence – from prescriptions to hospital letters – if it is appropriate and proportionate and helps to better understand the customer’s position. In fact, in May 2018 the CSA went as far as to proactively change its Code of Practice to reflect this and move away from the use of the DMHEF due to the charge. It is unacceptable that someone with money and mental health problems should have to pay to evidence their condition, and while the DMHEF was a highly effective tool, we welcome moves to stop the charge and simplify the form, particularly if it alleviates an already stressful situation for the customer.