Weight Management commercial organisations
YORLMC Ltd advises that practices consider carefully requests to complete medical questionnaires where there is no statutory obligation to do so unless the document requested will be of proven:-
- advantage to the patient;
- the statement, opinion, advice requested is within the areas of the GP’s professional expertise, knowledge and experience;
- the purpose for which the information is requested is directly related to the health of the patient and not bureaucratic or an attempt to obtain “authorisation” from the GP for the actions of a Council officer or an employer;
- the organisation requesting the document (NOT the patient) has agreed to pay a reasonable fee YORLMC Ltd adopted this policy because most certificates/reports requested are:-
- a wasteful use of GP time;
- unnecessary bureaucracy;
- not within the area of a GP’s professional competence and expertise;
- matters which can be dealt with by a less qualified professional With regards to patient requests for weight loss programmes, the GPC has advised that GPs themselves should be primarily responsible for providing appropriate advice and treatment for a patient’s obesity, rather than encouraging the patient to participate in a private programme.
However, if the GP does choose to provide this information, a medical form of this type falls under the BMA’s GP fee guidance on non-NHS report fees. http://bma.org.uk/practical-support-at-work/pay-fees-allowances/fees/fee-finder/fee-finder-gpguidance-for-reports
YORLMC Ltd reminds practices that although they would be entitled to charge a fee for completion of a proforma provided by a commercial weight management organisation and any examination of the patient that may be required, they are not entitled to charge their patients for undertaking “check-ups” and/or any tests that may be deemed necessary during the course of a check-up.
Attention is directed to: Schedule 5 of The National Health Service (General Medical Services Contracts) Regulations 2004 which is very specific about the only occasions on which a practice may charge its patients.
As stated under Paragraph 24(2a) of the National Health Service (General Medical Services Contracts) Regulations 2004 and equivalent PMS Regulations, the doctor would not be able to charge for follow-up appointments as it is not acceptable to charge for providing an ongoing course of treatment –
2) The contractor shall not, either itself or through any other person, demand or accept from any patient of its a fee or other remuneration, for its own or another's benefit, for -
a) the provision of any treatment whether under the contract or otherwise; or
b) any prescription or repeatable prescription for any drug, medicine or appliance, except in the circumstances set out in Schedule 5.
Who is responsible for paying the fee (i.e. the patient or the requesting organisation) will vary depending on what the requesting organisation has agreed with its members/clients.
However, as already stated above, it is YORLMC Ltd recommendation that it should be the organisation requesting the information that should bear the cost for obtaining a completed questionnaire. It is of course for the practice to decide whether or not to complete such questionnaires and the practice may, if it wishes, charge the patient direct for completion, unless it is a certificate/report required by statute.