(Revised) DWP letter to GPs following ESA refusal
Blog piece from Z2K -
Z2K have uncovered a worrying practice by the DWP which is creating yet another barrier to people getting the Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) they need. We discovered this problem when we investigated an issue raised by our client “Louis”.
Like thousands of others, Louis is too ill to work and needs the vital income ESA provides - but his claim was refused and the decision upheld in the Mandatory Reconsideration process. Louis lodged an appeal against the decision, and then was blocked from claiming ESA as he awaited his hearing, due to a misleading letter sent from the DWP to his doctor without Louis’ knowledge.
Z2K has confirmed that these letters are sent to the doctors of all ESA claimants who are initially unsuccessful in their claim, preventing untold numbers of low-income claimants from accessing financial support whilst wait for up to six months to go to tribunal.
NB: current version of the ESA65B says: “Please do not give [Title] [First name] [Surname] any more fit notes relating to [select] disability/health condition for ESA purposes”
Earlier version (posted to this discussion thread) included “You may have to give your patient new medical statements if ... they decide to appeal against our decision ...”
Written answer from Sarah Newton includes -
‘The wording of the ESA65B was changed to emphasise the benefits of work and to ask GPs to encourage their patients in their efforts to return to some form of work.’
... and, for claimants that need a fit note to get ESA pending appeal -
‘If a claimant’s GP does not provide them with a fit note during the appeal period they cannot be paid ESA but are able to claim JSA or UC where eligible.’
We’ve recently had a GP refuse to provide sick notes to a claimant awaiting an ESA appeal. Has the situation changed at all or the ESA65B letter been modified since this thread in May? It seems fairly outrageous that the only way a GP can know that it is possible to continue to provide sick notes is if she follows a link to a 28 page document, buried in page 21 of which there is a link to a longer document where, on page 9 there is a sentence indicating that it is even possible to continue to provide notes.