Jump to Main ContentJump to Primary Navigation

Domestic violence survivors are being charged by GPs to ‘prove’ they were abused


The government is being called upon to stop the “callous, insensitive and injust” practice of doctors charging domestic violence survivors for letters proving that they have been abused.

GPs are charging as much as £175 for a medical letter confirming that someone has been subjected to domestic violence, according to police and crime commissioners.

Under new legislation, domestic violence survivors now have to provide official evidence of their abuse before they can access legal aid. A doctor’s letter is one form of accepted evidence – but critics say that the prohibitively high cost charged by some GPs is preventing women from taking their abusers to court.


Some GPs are reportedly charging women up to £175 for letters confirming they have been abused.

In an open letter published by the Guardian, 16 police and crime commissioners (PCCs) called on the health secretary, Jeremy Hunt, to make these fees illegal.

Liz Truss, the justice secretary, was also urged to scrap the requirement for a doctor’s letter altogether.

Read more: What to do if you suspect your friend is a victim of domestic abuse

“That victims of domestic abuse are even being asked to prove they are victims before they can access legal aid is insulting, insensitive and wholly unhelpful,” Tony Lloyd, the Greater Manchester police and crime commissioner, told the Guardian.

“It should not be a privilege for victims of domestic abuse to gain legal aid,” he continued. “There should be no further burden on victims to chase a letter to verify their claim.

“The government needs to scrap this fee by bringing the service under NHS funding or – better still – scrap the need for the letter entirely.”

Watch: What not to say to an anxiety sufferer

While not all GPs are charging for the letter, campaigners say that some have demanded up to £175 from victims who have been raped, beaten or psychologically abused by their partners.

Read more: Laura Bates: “Let’s make 2017 the year we take action against sexual violence”

The open letter from PCCs reads: “Escaping abusive relationships is a struggle; it takes a great deal of strength and courage, and the government must do all it can to avoid placing unnecessary barriers in front of people who are clearly desperate to change their circumstances.”

Legal aid is a government-funded service designed to help people meet court costs. To be eligible, you normally have to prove that you couldn’t afford to pay for legal help on your own.


Tom Watson (left), with Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, is calling on the government to ban the practice of charging for medical letters proving domestic abuse.

According to Tom Watson, the deputy leader of the Labour Party, nearly half of all female domestic violence survivors “take no action” against their abusers “as a result of not being able to apply for legal aid.”

Watson, who first highlighted the issue of the controversial fee after visiting a women’s refuge in Manchester, described the situation as “appalling”, and said that he had requested an “urgent meeting with ministers to put an end to this practice.

“The government should scrap this unfair, immoral fee now,” he continued. “It has to stop.”

Domestic abuse will affect one in four women in their lifetime. On average, two women are murdered by a current or former partner in England and Wales every week.

You can sign Watson’s petition against the practice of charging for letters to prove domestic violence cases here.

Images: Rex Features, iStock


feminsit events.jpg

The 2017 Feminist Calendar: celebrate the sisterhood all year round


Woman assaulted when “safe house address given to abusive ex-husband”

woman laptop coffee.jpg

Rachel Court wants employers to watch for these abuse warning signs



“How Linkin Park’s Chester Bennington gave my generation a voice"

The musician leaves a lasting legacy

by Sarah Biddlecombe
21 Jul 2017

The grossly sexist ads we can’t believe exist in the 21st century

From a Co-op egg to that deeply offensive Protein World poster

by Kayleigh Dray
21 Jul 2017

How your Love Island obsession is wreaking havoc with your health

Experts have genuinely issued a warning…

by Kayleigh Dray
21 Jul 2017

Boots won’t cut morning-after pill price because we can’t be trusted

Cheaper emergency contraception? Unprotected sex party at ours, everyone!

by Amy Swales
21 Jul 2017

Did Japan’s First Lady pretend not to speak English to ignore Trump?

Akie Abe, we salute you.

by Sarah Biddlecombe
21 Jul 2017

This 'Beer For Her' has managed to offend everyone on Twitter

Apparently womankind can only ever drink from pink receptacles

by Megan Murray
21 Jul 2017

This Instagram account is aiming to break the miscarriage taboo

Women are coming together to share their stories of loss

by Megan Murray
21 Jul 2017

Jodie Whittaker’s Doctor Who salary revealed after gender pay gap row

And it may surprise you…

by Kayleigh Dray
21 Jul 2017

Quiz: which famous duo are you and your work wife?

It’s time to find out, once and for all, who you and your work wife really are…

by Kayleigh Dray
20 Jul 2017

You’ve been making your tea wrong this whole time, reveal tea experts

Wait, what?

by Jasmine Andersson
20 Jul 2017