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Deputy Labour leader launches petition to block GP report charge

Deputy Labour Party leader Tom Watson has launched a petition to block GPs from charging domestic abuse victims for medical reports.

Mr Watson said it was 'offensive' and 'ridiculous' that victims may be charged by their GP for a medical report that could support their bid for legal aid.

Mr Watson said he suspected most GPs would 'baulk' at the notion of charging in these circumstances, but said where it does happen it is 'unfair, immoral, and has to stop', despite not being funded under the GP contract.

The GPC said its view is that it is the legal aid process which needs reforming, so that GPs are 'not involved at all'.

In a blog, Mr Watson wrote that 'domestic violence victims suffer enough' and 'GPs should not be able to charge them to access justice'.

He said: 'Let me be clear. I know that the vast majority of GPs would baulk at the idea of charging for that letter. They are kind, compassionate and caring people who chose medicine as a profession because they want to help.

'But we don’t know how many do charge because the Government doesn’t hold that information. I think they need to find out fast. If this is a loophole, close it. If this is an unintended consequence of poorly drafted legislation, change it.

'No GP should charge victims of domestic abuse for a letter they need to access legal aid. It’s unfair. It’s immoral. And it has to stop.'

GPC deputy chair Dr Richard Vautrey told Pulse: ‘The BMA does not believe GPs should be involved in this process at all which is fundamentally unfair and distressing for the patient.’

‘The concerns raised by the victim should be enough for legal aid to be supplied and we should not be putting in place barriers that prevent anyone from accessing this important support.’

‘The best way to achieve what both we and Tom Watson want, which is proper support to women who are victims of domestic abuse, is for Legal Aid to drop the unnecessary requests for a GP letter altogether and instead trust the women involved.

The petition on Mr Watson’s personal site has attracted almost 1,200 signatures so far.

Readers' comments (18)

  • "He said: 'Let me be clear. I know that the vast majority of GPs would baulk at the idea of charging for that letter. They are kind, compassionate and caring people who chose medicine as a profession because they want to help." So GP don't have families and children and don't have material needs. They survive on patient's love and this fresh English air.
    But Solicitors can charge them because they are not compassionate .
    What a utter rubbish. Why do they need GP report in first place?
    Everybody wants to see/use GP for free.

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  • another nonsense from a relic of the era of new labor.
    so why stop with free medical reports? ask lawyers if they have compassion to undertake their legal duties for free.

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  • How about legal aid reimburses GPs, after all the solicitors and barristers dont work for free.

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  • Labours have lost another dedicated voter just now.

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  • Surely politicians should be "kind, compassionate and caring people who chose.....a profession because they want to help" - does Mr Watson not expect to be paid and does he claim expenses? Then there are lawyers - presumably they would like to help too and not accept payment.

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  • tom watson

    is a die hard blairite and all round ****

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  • He's entitled to his opinion .
    Thank god he will never be in government.

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  • For free ,non contractual means they will go in the pending tray never to be looked at again.

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  • I'm going to sound a complete hypocrite here (and I can't believe that I'm going to in any way defend this odious man), but the obvious point to make in rebuttal of the comments above is that solicitors are not given contracts/salaries by the state. They work on an item of service basis (which could perhaps be a better model for GP). Mr Watson would no doubt suggest that we are required to do some Govt admin for free (sick lines and the like) and this would fall into the same bracket.

    That said, my own personal view is that we should be allowed to charge for these in common with any other medicolegal report we do.

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  • Perhaps we should set up a counter-petition to support GPs being properly remunerated for legal work which comes at the expense of medical needs?

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