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Scrap Misleading Fit For Work Letter To GPs Says Labour

March 22, 2019

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.

The Guardian revealed this week that claimants appealing against “fit for work” decisions had been left without benefits and reliant on food banks because their GPs refused to provide them with “fit notes” after being wrongly advised in the letters that they were no longer required to do so.

Marsha de Cordova, the shadow minister for disability, said: “It is outrageous that the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) continues to send this misleading letter to GPs. This is despite evidence that they are depriving disabled people of social security and pushing them into destitution. The government must immediately scrap these reworded letters to prevent any further harm.”

A Scrap the Letters petition launched this week by the charity Z2K, which first highlighted the issue, has garnered more than 66,500 signatures. Its chief executive, Raji Hunjan, said: “The letter is actively misleading and results in denying the claimant their right to gain the benefits they are not only fully entitled to, but need to survive.”

Claimants who challenge work capability assessment (WCA) decisions can receive employment and support allowance (ESA) worth £73.10 a week while they await their appeal. However, to get it they must obtain fit notes from their GPs to prove they are too ill to work. The typical wait for an appeal is three to six months.

It emerged that ministers approved changes to the letter made in August 2017 that removed a key sentence informing GPs they must continue to provide fit notes if their patient appeals against their WCA. The minister for disability at the time was Penny Mordaunt, who is now the international development secretary.

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 WCA is controversial not least because of concerns over its accuracy and reliability. Nationally, 72% of claimants who appeal against their WCA are successful. Z2K said nine out of every 10 WCA cases it took to appeal were successful.

The letter, called an ESA65B, is sent automatically to the GPs of all claimants who fail a WCA and are declared fit enough to work. The previous version advised GPs that if their patient appealed against the WCA decision they must continue to provide fit notes.

As a result of the change, the letter now states that GPs “do not need to provide any more fit notes for ESA purposes”. It does not mention the possibility that the patient may appeal, or that a fit note is needed for the patient to obtain ESA payments until the appeal is heard.

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.

However, that link goes to a 28-page document entitled “Getting the most out of the fit note”. It contains no advice for GPs regarding fit notes for patients who are appealing against a WCA, nor any clue that a link on page 14 goes to a separate 20-page document, where the relevant advice is found on page nine.

Hunjam said: “This Alice in Wonderland maze makes it impossible for anyone to uncover the DWP’s advice, not least an incredibly busy and overstretched GP.”

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One Comment leave one →
  1. March 22, 2019 4:42 pm

    >”The Guardian revealed this week”

    Guardian BS… ‘their’ story has been around for at least a YEAR –

    https://samedifference1.com/2019/03/18/misleading-dwp-letter-on-fit-notes-leading-to-benefit-delays/#comment-262521

    The Canary-27 Apr 2018 –
    https://www.thecanary.co/discovery/analysis-discovery/2018/04/27/the-dwp-has-been-caught-trying-to-coerce-gps-into-saying-their-patients-are-fit-for-work/

    DPAC Apr 26 2018 –
    https://dpac.uk.net/2018/04/letter-to-the-royal-college-of-gps-and-bma-about-dwp-interference-in-gp-practice/

    So what has Labour Party Shadow Chancellor of the Exchequer John McDonnell and his DPAC gang been doing for the past TEN MONTHS???

    Where are the police and social services??? Well?

    Marsha de Cordova, the shadow minister for disability, said: “It is outrageous that the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) continues to send this misleading letter to GPs. This is despite evidence that they are depriving disabled people of social security and pushing them into destitution. The government must immediately scrap these reworded letters to prevent any further harm.”

    So where are that BSing Hot-Air-Blowing rats Police and social services??? Well?

    Ahhh protecting it’s WCA Quack Unison mates –

    >”A Scrap the Letters petition launched this week by the charity Z2K,
    ATOS employing Government cash BRIBED FAKERS –
    https://samedifference1.com/2019/03/18/misleading-dwp-letter-on-fit-notes-leading-to-benefit-delays/#comment-262516

    >”which first highlighted the issue”
    NOT True

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