Sometimes I do wonder whether there shouldn't be much in life that shocks anymore. On a daily basis I get messages from our members or hear from the meetings I attend another idea that should have never seen the light of day. This week however, there's another issue that has been brought to life which should shock us all, this time by The Money and Mental Health Policy Institute (an organisation recently set up by the MoneySavingExpert, Martin Lewis.
The Institute has highlighted that 1 in 3 patients, when visiting their GP, have been charged up to £150 to get a doctors note (the debt and mental health evidence form), which is required by their creditors, before they can get access to extra support.
In January 2014 Unite/MHNA produced a special edition of the MHN journal. In it we focused on how austerity has impacted on people with mental ill health. To paraphrase the edition, the impact of the then coalition and following Conservative governments austerity cuts have been hugely disproportionate.
This 'inverse principle' also impacts on our NHS, so at a time of rising demand, services have been cut back. GPs have not been immune to this and so with increasing patients needing to get seen, including for the myriad of forms for justifying much needed support, these things that shouldn't happen, do.
Therefore, can we be more creative in finding a solution? Instead of demanding a further form, can we repurpose other forms and letters that are already being written, for example a clinic letter or fit note? Today, I'm asking our members in the Mental Health Nurses Association and Doctors in Unite to give me their views. Anyone else is more than welcome to also contact me with your thoughts.
Let's make it easier for people with mental ill health and GPs. At the end of the day, if we're a compassionate society then we really do need to #StopTheCharge.
Dave Munday, Lead professional officer (Mental Health)