May 21, 2020 / 7:55 PM / 8 days ago

False claim: UK doctors get £75 for signing death certificates, £120 if patient had COVID-19

An image shared online claims British doctors get paid £120 if they sign the death certificate of a COVID-19 patient. This is incorrect.

Reuters Fact Check. REUTERS/Axel Schmidt

The image shows a medical document which states COVID-19 can be put on a death certificate “on clinical balance of probabilities, without testing” (here).

Above this, there is a screenshot of a social media status that wrongly claims: “For signing a death certificate a doctor will get £75.00 but if it’s for covid £120.00.” The post insinuates that doctors will be tempted to register COVID-19 as the cause of death for monetary gain.

A spokesperson for the British Medical Association (BMA) told Reuters that there is no fee for signing a medical certificate of cause of death (MCCD), regardless of diagnosis. This is the case for all patients whether they are treated through the publicly funded British National Health Service (NHS) or through private hospitals.

While the NHS provides free at the point of use healthcare, Britons can opt to pay for private treatment (here , here , here ). The BMA confirmed that individuals who opt to have private treatment cannot be specifically charged for the signing of an MCCD.

There is, however, a charge for cremation forms, which is the paperwork required for a cremation to take place. Unlike death certificates, cremation forms require NHS doctors to make investigations outside their normal NHS duties (here , here).

The BMA said that the current fee for a cremation certificate is £82, adding that “this fee does not vary depending on the cause of death”.

Previously, cremation could only take place if two certificates, one by the GP and one by another doctor, had been signed. However recent coronavirus legislation means the second form is no longer needed, meaning only £82 needs to be paid. (here)

A COVID-19 diagnosis “does not alter the charge for death certificates or cremation paperwork in any scenario,” according to the BMA spokesperson. “It is possible that whoever has made this statement has conflated some out-of-date rules with a misunderstanding of the different forms required after death and with erroneous figures.”

VERDICT

False. UK doctors do not charge a fee for signing death certificates, regardless of diagnosis.

This article was produced by the Reuters Fact Check team. Read more about our work to fact-check social media posts here .

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