DOCTORS have promised to stop charging for forms that people with mental health problems need to get debt support.
The charges for the paperwork usually cost around £30-£50, but some people have been forced to pay a whopping £150.
Getty – Contributor People with mental health problems will no longer be charged for forms they need to get debt support
Martin Lewis, founder of MoneySavingExpert as well as the Money and Mental Health Policy Institute (MMPHI), says he’s “over the moon” about the move.
The institute launched a campaign on the issue over two years ago after it found that one in three people who asked a GP to complete the form were being charged for it.
The charges have prevented some people from getting help to resolve their debts, while others are going without essentials such as food or heating in order to pay the charge.
The British Medical Association (BMA) – the professional association for doctors – has now pledged that all GPs in England will stop charging for the debt and mental health evidence form as soon as a shorter version of the form is introduced.
This is likely to happen in the next few weeks, a spokesperson told The Sun.
Trade bodies UK Finance and the Credit Services Association have also agreed to advise firms to only request the form as a last resort.
And the BMA said it’ll continue to work with creditors and charities to support people to provide evidence of their mental health problems from their own medical records, which will be available from April this year.
MMPHI said it’ll also continue to campaign to end charges for the form in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
Martin Lewis said: “We’re over the moon that the BMA has finally agreed to stop people with mental health and debt problems being charged for the paperwork they need to get help.
“These charges can play havoc with people’s financial and mental wellbeing, often when they are at their lowest ebb – leaving many avoiding asking for the help they desperately need.
What are mental health debt forms?HERE’s all you need know about the forms.The debt and mental health evidence form is often required by creditors before they offer additional debt support to people with mental health problems.
Once creditors have received this form, they often offer easier payment terms, cancel charges or interest, or may even write some debts off altogether.
The paperwork is most commonly completed by a GP, although other health professionals can fill it in.
As this isn’t an official NHS form, the current rules do allow GPs to charge, just as they can for certification that a patient is fit to travel on holiday.
“Today’s announcement puts us in touching distance of ending this injustice. We have a momentous agreement from banks, doctors and debt collectors, who are all ready to play their part.
“Now the agreement is there, we just need the government to lead the coordination of all the groups involved to produce the new paper work.”
Meanwhile, Dr Richard Vautrey, chair of the BMA GP Committee in England, said: “The BMA, Money and Mental Health, NHS England and the Government have a shared concern about the impact that financial debt has on the mental health of many people.
“To that end we want a solution that, where possible, empowers patients to provide their own evidence of their condition.
“When involvement is necessary, using a newly designed much simplified form, practices will not charge patients to complete it.
“There may be times when a more complex health report is required by a bank or other lender, and in those rare circumstances, those reports need to be sought directly from the practice by a lender and the lender would pay an appropriate fee, not the patient.”
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Hard-up Brits can also claim up to £1,000 in grants to help pay energy bills if they are in debt.
Meanwhile, a charity worker who considered suicide after racking up debts of £50,000 managed to clear every penny she owed in just six years.
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