Patients with mental health problems will no longer have to pay for the form they need to get debt support thanks to work by the BMA and other stakeholders. The changes are part of the new five-year GP Contract.
In a statement, the BMA said creditors and debt advisors should trust customers’ own accounts of their mental health conditions, and only ask for evidence if 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, a new, shortened Debt and Mental Health Evidence Form (DMHEF) can now be filled out free of charge to the patient.
Commenting on the move, Dr Richard Vautrey, chair of the BMA general practitioners 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, Money and Mental Health Policy Institute (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,” he said.
“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,” he added.