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Forum Home  →  Discussion  →  Work capability issues and ESA  →  Thread

‘Instructions ’ from DWP to GP Surgeries

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Pete at CAB
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One of our local Surgeries has a warning on its website that following ‘instructions ’ from the jobcentre the surgery will no longer provide letters in support of benefits unless the jobcentre asks for one.

I seem to recall that something along these lines was sent to GPs a while ago ( I can’t find the thread)  but the Surgery seem to be portraying this as a more recent development.

Leaving aside discussions about the value of medical evidence (and whether or not the DWP has any power at all to stop GPs writing letters!) I was wondering if anyone has a copy of this ‘instruction’, or if it isn’t something new, a copy of the last guidance sent to GPs.

     
Sally63
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Ask them for a copy of the instruction

     
John Birks
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It’s more likely to be a matter of interpretation of the letter below.

http://data.parliament.uk/DepositedPapers/Files/DEP2018-0290/ESA65B_Letter.pdf

What to do about vexatious complaints
Work within the benefits assessment field attracts a high level of vexatious complaints. This is attributed to the professional opinion doctors are required to make and the financial implications for the individuals being assessed.

Doctors may feel vulnerable and increasingly reluctant to undertake this essential area of work, due to a lack of support during the complaints procedure.

However, the changes in the GMC’s complaints procedure, for example, mean that a majority of complaints are now handled at a local level and doctors are no longer removed from the GMC website whilst under investigation, have somewhat eased the concerns of medical services doctors.

https://www.bma.org.uk/advice/employment/fees/benefits-certification

Older thread here

https://www.rightsnet.org.uk/forums/viewthread/9637/#43825

     
neilbateman
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Yes ask for a copy of the “instructions”.  It may be a case of misinterpreting the standard DWP advice that fit notes don’t need to be issued after a successful WCA.

Even if such instructions do exist, the DWP has no jurisdiction or power to instruct GPs or any other NHS professional what to do.  Indeed, to even try to could be viewed as a gross intrusion upon their professional independence and expertise.  I’m surprised the GPs appear to have allowed the impression to be given that they do what DWP tells them.

     
Pete at CAB
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Thanks for all the replies, I think that the ‘instruction’ is in fact from the BMA website, its almost word for word the same

     
robverco
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I wonder if that sounds more like a notice to patients that GPs will not respond to letters requesting letters in return to support claims and appeals. I think that would be a decision of the surgery.

The current ESA65B was flagged and discussed with the DWP at a Southwark Complex Needs meeting this year. It makes no mention of the patient/claimant appealing the decision and therefore still requiring fit notes (surely an independent medical decision by the GP) and instead relies on the GP following gov.uk links to guidance. A DWP representative from ESA took our concerns away and we should find out in December if suggested changes are to be made.

     
Stuart
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The Work and Pensions Committee has questioned the wording used in the ESA65B sent to GPs in a letter to Sarah Newton published yesterday.

     
ub40worker
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stuart - 14 February 2019 01:32 PM

The Work and Pensions Committee has questioned the wording used in the ESA65B sent to GPs in a letter to Sarah Newton published yesterday.

Nice one Mr Field.

     
Daphne
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Written answer yesterday from Sarah Newton says they -

We have received comments from a number of sources including MPs, stakeholder organisations and GPs on the current version of the ESA65B letter and will take all of their feedback into account when revising it.

     
Dan Manville
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Daphne - 14 March 2019 10:26 AM

Written answer yesterday from Sarah Newton says they -

We have received comments from a number of sources including MPs, stakeholder organisations and GPs on the current version of the ESA65B letter and will take all of their feedback into account when revising it.

Good job she did it yesterday isn’t it?

     
shawn
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In today’s Guardian

Chronically ill and disabled people are being left for months without benefits because officials are sending “misleading” letters to their GPs saying they no longer need to supply medical evidence on behalf of patients who are declared fit for work.

Campaigners and MPs have called for the Department for Work and Pensions letter to be scrapped after it emerged claimants appealing against a fit-for-work decision were left near-destitute after their GPs refused to provide “fit notes” because they were advised they did not need to.

More: https://www.theguardian.com/society/2019/mar/18/misleading-dwp-letter-causing-ill-and-disabled-people-to-lose-benefits

     
shawn
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ZK #ScraptheLetters campaign:

Stop sending letters telling doctors to withhold sick notes from the ill and disabled people seeking Employment and Support Allowance. It is not for the DWP to interfere with the GP and their patient. Sign the petition today.

https://www.z2k.org/scrap-the-letters/

 

     
shawn
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While Amber Rudd said this week that -

We are committed to ensuring our communication is clear, which is why the wording of this letter was cleared by both the British Medical Association and the Royal College of General Practitioners ...

... the chair of the Royal College of General Practitioners has said -

We are concerned about letters being sent to GPs suggesting that we do not need to provide fit notes to patients who have been found to be ineligible for the Employment and Support Allowance, without making clear that there are exceptions, for example, if a patient is appealing against the decision.

It is crucial that any document or correspondence relating to fit notes reflects the often-complex reality of the situation and ensures that GPs are still able to issue fit notes for patients when they feel it is necessary and when our patients need them.

Patients who are appealing a decision require a fit note to be able to continue to receive benefits - without this document, their finances and ultimately their health are potentially at risk. No GP wants that, and it only serves to threaten the long-standing trust that patients have in their family doctor ...

More: http://www.pulsetoday.co.uk/news/gp-topics/legal/patients-risk-homelessness-after-dwp-sends-gps-misleading-benefits-letters/20038405.article

 

     
shawn
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From the Guardian -

The Labour party has urged the government to scrap “misleading” letters sent by welfare officials to GPs that have had devastating consequences for ill and disabled people left unable to claim benefits for several months ...

GP leaders have criticised the changes, saying they undermined trust between patients and GPs. The DWP claims the changes were approved at a regular stakeholder meeting at which the Royal College of GPs and the British Medical Association were present ...

The DWP has said the aim of the change was to make the letter “simpler and clearer”, and that GPs could find the advice about fit notes by following a link printed at the foot of the letter.

https://www.theguardian.com/society/2019/mar/22/scrap-misleading-fit-for-work-letter-to-gps-says-labour-marsha-de-cordova

     
Ruth Knox
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This is the ESA65B letter.  It was rather misleading to state there was a link at the bottom of the letter.  The letter explicitly says that they should not provide sick notes.  It also refers to a website for further information. Clicking on this link takes the GP to a 28 page booklet called “Getting the most out the fit note GP guidance.”  The 28 page booklet does not inform the GP that in these circumstances they may provide a sick note, but page 21 refers the GP to a further site, where they will find a 20 page booklet called “The benefits system -  a short guide for GPs”.  Buried in page 9 of this booklet t is a single sentence “ No further fit notes will be required unless the patient appeals the decision.”

Ruth

     
shawn
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