This site is intended for health professionals only

Police chiefs urge Jeremy Hunt to ban GP fees for domestic abuse reports


6 February 2017

Share this story:
Twitter
LinkedIn

Police and crime commissioners have urged the health secretary, Jeremy Hunt, to stop charging domestic abuse victims for a medical letter from their GP that is needed to access legal aid.

A letter signed by 16 police and crime commissioners said the practice of charging victims for a document that proves they were abused is ‘callous, insensitive and unjust’.

Police and crime commissioners have urged the health secretary, Jeremy Hunt, to stop charging domestic abuse victims for a medical letter from their GP that is needed to access legal aid.

A letter signed by 16 police and crime commissioners said the practice of charging victims for a document that proves they were abused is ‘callous, insensitive and unjust’.

Recent legislation changes mean domestic abuse victims now have to apply for legal aid but to qualify, they must provide evidence to prove that they have been abused. One accepted form of evidence is a GP letter.

While not all GPs are requesting a fee for the letter, some are charging up to £175.

The letter says: ‘Of course not all GPs are charging such fees, but if we are to ensure that victims receive a consistent, equitable, and fair service across the UK, this service needs to be provided by the NHS, and the fees abolished.

‘GPs are under a terrible strain at the moment, and complex organisational structures and commissioning processes make resolutions to issues such as this difficult. But no matter what the difficulties are, it’s clear that some victims are receiving a service that falls well short of what’s expected.’

The concerns were first raised by deputy Labour leader Tom Watson’s ‘scrap the fee’ campaign following a visit to a Wythenshawe Safe Spots, a support centre for victims and survivors of domestic abuse.

Mr Watson said he was ‘delighted’ that the campaign was backed by the police and crime commissioners and added that he has requested an urgent meeting with ministers to end the practice.

Twitter
LinkedIn