A report from the Money and Mental Health Policy Institute claims that GPs are profiting from patients’ debt problems.
The investigation reads: “People with mental health problems and debt are being charged up to £150 for a doctor’s note required by their creditors to prove that they have a mental health condition and should receive extra support.”
Research reveals that one in four people battling with mental health problems also struggle with debt.
The illness can worsen patients’ ability to earn money, as well as managing it effectively.
For this reason, banks often provide mental health patients with financial support, but this can only happen when the form has been signed by a doctor.
Sadly, some GPs have been profiting by this by asking their patients to pay for their signature.
The British Medical Association has spoken out against GPs who are profiting from vulnerable patients.
A spokesperson from the BMA said: “The BMA believes this unfair and bureaucratic system needs reforming.
“People should not be fobbed off by countless organisations who, instead of believing the individual themselves, tell them to get a letter from their GP.
“However it is not necessary for GPs to be involved in this process.
“The BMA believe such systems and processes must be reformed so that patients are trusted with the information they provide about their medical conditions or, if a medical report is deemed to be absolutely essential, that the administrative costs for producing it is paid by the requester, not the member of the public.”
Joanna Elson OBE, chief executive of the Money Advice Trust, the charity that runs National Debtline, said: “On the debt advice front line we see every day that debt and mental health problems can be inextricably linked.
“We are working with a growing number of creditors to improve the experience of customers in vulnerable circumstances – and this campaign is absolutely right to highlight that there is more that medical professionals can do as well.
“We need to see an end to GPs charging for the evidence that customers need to help them resolve their financial difficulty – and a more rounded approach to ensuring the best possible outcome for people struggling to cope with mental health problems and financial difficulty.”
The Money and Mental Health Policy has also been supported by a number of charities, including Mind, Rethink and StepChange.