England

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BMA helps end patient charges for mental health debt forms

Patients with mental health problems will no longer have to pay for the form they need to get debt support thanks to work between the British Medical Association (BMA) and other stakeholders. 
 
The Debt and Mental Health Evidence Form (DMHEF) is a form that health and social care professionals complete to prove to creditors and debt advisors that an indebted person has a mental health condition – something which could affect how well they manage their money.
 
Until now, patients would be expected to pay for these forms, which can cost between £30 and £150, potentially exacerbating their debt and mental health problems. 
 
The changes are part of the new five-year GP Contract and mean:

  • Creditors and debt advisors should trust customers’ own accounts of their mental health conditions, and only ask for evidence if it’s absolutely necessary.
  • If evidence is needed, firms should consider whether the customer could provide a prescription, appointment letter, or benefits letter to confirm their diagnosis.
  • If these aren’t available, then a new, shortened Debt and Mental Health Evidence Form can be filled out, free of charge to the patient.

The BMA and the Money and Mental Health Policy Institute (MMHPI) worked together after MMHPI launched its ‘Stop the Charge’ campaign in 2016, following research which showed that around one in three people with mental health problems who asked a GP to complete the Debt and Mental Health Evidence form were charged for it.
 
In January 2017, then Prime Minister Theresa May officially backed the campaign, launching a formal review to address the issue. 
 
Following this, the Government and organisations from across health, debt and financial sectors set up a working group to end the charge for good.
 
The group also recognised the impact these forms are having on GP workload and so decided to reduce the length of the form, as well as the demand for family doctors to complete it. 
 
Dr Richard Vautrey, chair of the BMA GPC committee in England, said:

“It can be hard for patients with mental health conditions to reach out for financial help, so it’s vital that the process of getting debt support is made as simple as possible and without unnecessary charges.  
 
“The BMA, MMHPI, NHS England and the Government have had a shared concern about this for some time now, so we’re delighted that the DMHEF is now shorter, clearer, and comes at no cost to our patients. 
 
“We want to empower patients by encouraging the use of self-certification and reduce the need for GP practice involvement in these situations, but we hope that, where that’s not possible, this updated form will now make things quicker and easier for those to get the help they need and deserve.” 

Ends 

Notes to Editors 

For more information about the DMHEF, please click here.

The BMA is a trade union representing and negotiating on behalf of all doctors in the UK. A leading voice advocating for outstanding health care and a healthy population. An association providing members with excellent individual services and support throughout their lives.

 

For further information please contact:

British Medical Association, BMA House, Tavistock Square, London, WC1H 9JP
Telephone: 020 7383 6448 
Email: [email protected]
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