I don’t see this impacting my current practise very much at all.
Time will tell…
Can’t see why it would tbh.
I use medical evidence in MH and LD cases i.e. where people may lack insight. GP records are sometimes but not always useful there and will remain so but I’d routinely obtain those if needed. I rarely think they are and I rarely do. I otherwise subscribe to the social model and use anecdotal evidence. At present few tribunals try to adjourn me for GP records because it’s an issue I address in a written sub i.e. as to why it’s of no consequence.
Where they do, and I’ve already addressed it, I actively resist. They usually back off when referred to specific paras. of a sub.
Where they do and I think there’s an advantage to the client, not because of what might be in the GP records, but more because there’s a panel member with whom I’m familiar whom we could do with being nowhere near the case (or because I’m clear that a specific judge also feels that way too), then I’m happy to go along with it.
In the latter sort of cases there’s no more actual need for GP records than the former so I’m happy to advise clients to subsequently resist obtaining unnecessary evidence. The matter gets relisted and rather than a telling off or even a question about why not I usually get a win on the evidence as it was first time around. Those are usually the hearings which take barely 10 minutes because the tribunal have previewed; are fully aware of what happened last time out and will be wholly resistant to the idea of pushing for a second adjournment.
Balance of probabilities and all that.
Plus ca change…
Our understanding is that panels will be expected to take oral evidence from the appellant (and PO if present) and consider the available written evidence before deciding whether to invite the appellant to obtain their records. Only if the panel then feels it is ‘unable to do justice’ would a request be made to the appellant to obtain their records.
That is also what I have been told by a Tribunal Judge (more Chinese whispers).
Where this occurs I think that this will mean that the panel will hold an oral hearing, decide they need medical records and then adjourn with the invitation for the appellant to get medical records. In practice, due to the logistical difficulties in reconvening the same panel, the next hearing will be a completely new panel who will want to hold the oral hearing all over again… This is not going to happen too often, so the effect of the new guidance will probably be to vastly reduce the number of hearings that are adjourned for production of medical records. Which could be either a good or a bad thing, depending on your point of view.
We have now had this come up locally.
A suggestion for hmtcs is provide a standard letter for clients to give to gp and a pre-paid envelope to send the records in.
Would be much better for unrepresented claiments.
I have written to a GP’s surgery to request a copy of a client’s records (with a form of authority and pre-paid envelope for my office.) The surgery have told me that they want the client to go to the surgery with ID and to sign a consent form - they won’t send this form in the post. Then, when the records are ready, they want the client to go back to the surgery, sign another form and collect the records. They expect the client to then post the records to me. This isn’t difficult for someone who’s attending their GP’s surgery regularly, but this client’s health has now recovered and he’s back in full time work. So he potentially has to have time off work just to access his records!