Blood donor shocked by letter charge

A DISGRUNTLED Ipswich student has today criticised her GP for trying to charge her for a letter which would allow her to give blood.

A DISGRUNTLED Ipswich student has today criticised her GP for trying to charge her for a letter which would allow her to give blood.

Julia Wood, a trainee social worker, was shocked to be told she must pay £10 before she could receive the information.

The 24-year-old, of Warwick Road, said: “I went to give blood but was told that because I am on medication I would need a note from my doctor to say that it was okay.

“I wrote them a letter explaining the situation but when I rang up to ask them what was happening they said that it would cost £10.

“I couldn't believe it. Why should people who want to help save lives be charged for doing it?”

Dr Sally Whale, from Dr's Solway and Whale's GP Practice in Orchard Street, said the issue had arisen because it was not clear whether Miss Wood would just need a statement saying which medicine she was on, or an opinion on whether it would be safe for her to give blood.

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She said: “I am happy to provide Miss Wood with a letter without charging - if it is a statement of fact that will enable the National Blood Service to assess whether her donated blood is suitable for use.

“If I was needed to give my professional medical opinion I would need to undertake time consuming research because, as a GP, I am not an expert in what clinical situations would make blood unsuitable for the National Blood Service.”

She said the confusion arose because the National Blood Service usually contact GPs directly rather than asking a patient to do it.

Evening Star reporter Rebecca Lefort, who is currently trying to lose weight, has also been affected by charges.

Before she could begin her diet she had to produce a doctor's certificate to show she was healthy enough to take part. This required her to undergo a ten-minute health check at her GP's surgery, for which she was charged around £25.

She said: “I can't believe that people are being charged to try and do something to improve their health.

“Getting people to lose weight is one of the Government's big health priorities and, in the long-term, it's going to save them money.”

Jan Rowsell, spokeswoman for the Suffolk East Primary Care Trusts, said: “There are guidelines which are issued nationally about fees, and a scale of charges, and each practice has some autonomy in which of these fees they are going to apply.

“It's up to the individual practice to determine what services they will charge for, as long as they remain within national guidelines.”

Have you been affected by similar charges? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or send us an e-mail to eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk

WEBLINK

www.blood.co.uk

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