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DWP Told GP Not To Give Sick Notes To Patient Who Was Found Fit For Work

January 3, 2017

A manager at the Department for Work and Pensions wrote to a seriously ill man’s GP and told him not to give him sick notes.

The letter said James Harrison had been declared “fit for work” and shouldn’t get medical certificates.

But 10 months after the DWP contacted his doctor without telling him, James was dead at 55.

His grieving daughter Abbie, 23, said: “It’s a disgrace that managers at the Jobcentre, who know nothing about medicine, should interfere in any way in the relationship between a doctor and a patient.

“They have no place at all telling a doctor what they should or shouldn’t give a patient. It has nothing to do with them.

“When the Jobcentre starts to get involved in telling doctors about the health of their patients, that’s a really slippery slope.”

Abbie said James had worked since leaving school at a community centre near his home. But his already poor health went downhill after the centre was shut down by austerity cuts.

He had a serious lung condition and a hernia before the centre closed, and developed depression and anxiety afterwards.

Abbie said: “He’d worked all his life. He wasn’t the kind of guy who knew anything about benefits.

“But as his health deteriorated, there wasn’t any chance he could do a job. He applied for employment and support allowance.”

James got ESA but only at the low rate of £70 a week, the same as jobseekers’ allowance. He was then sent for one of the DWP’s hated “Work Capability Assessments” – and declared fit for work.

Despite that decision, Abbie said James remained in constant need of medical help and had to go to his doctor regularly.

But the GP repeatedly refused to give him a sick note, and James began to suspect the Jobcentre were to blame.

Abbie said: “He really needed a note. He was too ill to go to the constant appointments at the Jobcentre and he didn’t want to be sanctioned.

“He became convinced the DWP had been talking to his doctor behind his back.”

Abbie didn’t believe James’s theory at the time and thought he was just confused.

But when she asked to see her dad’s medical records, she found a letter in his file from Julia Savage, a manager at Birkenhead Benefit Centre in James’s home city of Liverpool.

The letter was addressed to James’s GP. It said: “We have decided your patient is capable of work from and including January 10, 2016.

“This means you do not have to give your patient more medical certificates for employment and support allowance purposes unless they appeal against this decision.

“You may need to again if their condition worsens significantly, or they have a new medical condition.”

PhD student Abbie is furious that James had to waste time at his short doctor’s appointments pleading for a sick line he wasn’t going to get.

And she is sickened by the way the system treated her father at every turn.

She said: “I’d love to interrogate these DWP people the way they interrogated dad – ask them to explain the things they put him through.

“Dad wasn’t well. Who knows, maybe he could have improved if he’d been given some support, rather than subjected to suspicion and scepticism at every turn.”

Asked about the letter, a DWP spokeswoman said: “The GP would have been notified so they know the outcome of the assessment.

“And as the letter says, there’s no longer any requirement to provide a fit note unless the claimant appeals the decision, or their medical condition worsens or they have a new medical condition.”

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has vowed to use new devolved powers to end the misery of benefits tests in Scotland. She says she will create a system based on dignity and respect.

The Fight Will Go On

ABBIE told James’s story to campaign group Stop-Pip.org, set up to expose the Tories’ cruel fit-for-work tests.

The group were set by a Scots film director who records victims’ testimony and puts it online. He does not want to be named.

The director welcomed Sturgeon’s pledge to do away with the “fit for work” tests.

But he said: “We won’t be giving up.
I’ll continue filming people’s stories until things change across the country. I also want to see action from the Scottish Government, not just words.”

The Record endorses Stop-Pip’s work.

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. January 3, 2017 7:32 am

    Reblogged this on sdbast.

  2. Sarah Davis permalink
    January 3, 2017 10:58 am

    This has been happening for a long time. My GP got a letter from them 7 years ago telling her not to issue any more sick notes but luckily she ignored them as I was suffering severe mental health problems at the time. Any doctor who complies with DWP on this should be struck off, they sign the Hippocratic Oath which states – ” I will keep them (the sick) from harm and injustice”

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