GPs to Drop Charges for Mental Health Debt Help Forms
February 21, 2019
The British Medical Council (BMA) has committed to dropping the charges associated with the forms people need to fill out in order to seek help with their debts while suffering with mental health problems.
The forms can be asked for in the context of negotiations between debtors and their creditors, and can lead to debtors being given more support as they grapple with both personal finance and mental health issues.
Plans are now in place to make it easier and quicker for GPs to fill out the relevant forms in relation to people who clearly need more help to get to grips with their debts.
The Money and Mental Health Policy Institute has been lobbying for charges associated with mental health debt forms to be dropped for several years and the group’s founder and chair Martin Lewis has given a very warm welcome to news that they will now be scrapped throughout England.
“We’re over the moon that the BMA has finally agreed to stop people with mental health and debt problems being charged for the paperwork they need to get help,” Mr Lewis has said.
“These charges can play havoc with people’s financial and mental wellbeing, often when they are at their lowest ebb – leaving many avoiding asking for the help they desperately need.”
Recent figures suggest that around one in three people in England with mental health problems who ask their doctor to fill out a debt help form for them get charged for making that request.
The amounts involved were typically between £30 and £50, with some people being charged more than once, according to the Money and Mental Health Policy Institute.
Bringing about a situation whereby charges for debt help forms are no longer necessary has required extensive collaboration between major financial services institutions, the BMA and leading debt help charities.
Although an agreement in principle on the matter has been reached, it still remains for the government to coordinate the disparate parties involved in order to ensure that people who have mental health problems and debt concerns can get the help they need without being charged by their GPs.
“We want to reduce, as far as possible, the need for GP practice involvement,” explained Dr Richard Vautrey, chair of the BMA GP Committee in England.
“When involvement is necessary, using a newly designed much simplified form, practices will not charge patients to complete it,” he added.
“There may be times when a more complex health report is required by a bank or other lender, and in those rare circumstances, those reports need to be sought directly from the practice by a lender and the lender would pay an appropriate fee, not the patient.”