Exclusive The BMA’s professional fees committee will be negotiating with Government to allow doctors to increase their fees for non-NHS work, Pulse can reveal.
Committee chair Dr Peter Holden, a GP in Derbyshire, said he is looking to achieve a 4% increase in a bid to make the fees more ‘fair’ to GPs.
Dr Holden told Pulse this comes as some fees have not changed for almost 30 years, and do not reflect the GP workload.
He said: ‘Fees increased ahead of inflation between 1996 and 2005, but they have since dropped and several have not been increased for two or three years.
‘Some fees can’t be altered at all as they are in primary legislation, such as fees for road traffic accidents, which have not changed since 1988.’
The maximum fee for making copies of health records is currently set at £50, while the fee for obtaining an extract from records is £46.50 but Dr Holden said these levels were ‘simply unfair’.
He said: ‘Doctors have to trawl through, remove third party harmful information, remove any information that could be clinically harmful.
‘To process any report involves over 20 different steps. Many records are still manual and making copies of old paper records written in fountain pen is a pain staking task.
‘Nobody is listening, and GPs are being left holding the baby.’
Dr Holden said he wants to re-frame the attitude to fees to account for inflation, allowing doctors to charge an economically viable rate.
He said: ‘We have to start making sure that we are paid appropriately for the work we do. [In a supermarket], if people can’t afford it, they can take some things out of the basket or get some more money, but you can’t argue with the checkout girl.’
He added: ‘Doctors are not fools. We can work out the change in our expenses ratio and use the Retail Price Index data that the Government publishes… to work out what the new fees should be.’
Under the Competition Act of 1998, the BMA is only permitted to recommend or suggest fees in conditions where only a patient’s own practice or GP could carry out the service.
GPs cannot charge their own patients for any non-NHS treatments that they receive but LMC leaders voted last week for the GPC to push for the Government to allow this to take place.