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BBC: GPs inform patients they will not write letters for benefit appeals

Firestormm

Senior Member
Messages
5,055
Location
Cornwall England
GPs in south east Wales told not to help benefit appeals

18 July 2013

GPs in south east Wales have been told to stop writing letters for patients appealing against decisions to stop benefit payments because it is an "abuse of resources".

Patients have been asking doctors for evidence that they are not fit for work.

But Bro Taf local medical committee, representing GPs, says writing letters stops doctors seeing ill patients.

Disability Wales has described the decision as "almost callous".

LMC chair Dr Charles Allanby told BBC Radio Wales that it was adding to GP workloads.

"We are seeing at least one or two patients per surgery per doctor, asking for assistance," he told the Good Morning Wales programme.

"If you add that up throughout the whole of Wales, that is an enormous number of appointments being taken up by people who are not actually ill.

"Do we want to see doctors seeing ill patients, or do we want to see doctors seeing patients who are not ill but simply want to undertake some form of appeal letter?" :devil:

In the letter from the LMC to GPs, it says moves to a new system of benefits for the disabled, rule changes to housing benefit, and the work capability assessments can all impact on surgery workloads.

It also provides a strongly-worded draft letter for patients spelling out its case.

"GPs have a contract with the NHS to provide general medical services to their patients and are not in a position to administer or police the benefits system," states the letter.

"GPs are not contracted or resourced to provide this kind of service and making such requests to GPs represents an abuse of NHS resources.

"We cannot therefore respond to your request for a letter." :mad:

Fiona Howells, who lives in Ferndale in the Rhondda, said her doctor had initially agreed to write a supporting letter for a £20 fee, but then withdrew that offer.

"For your doctor to be put in a position where they are unable to support you is bad enough, but for that recommendation to be made by other doctors is just absolutely shocking," she said.

"It makes you ill, to be honest. It just leaves you in despair."

There are still some circumstances where GPs are required to take part in the appeals process for benefits claimants as part of their contracts.

But only if they are written to by medical professionals from Atos, the private company assessing benefits.

A spokesperson for the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) said: "A decision on whether someone is well enough to work is taken following a thorough assessment and after careful consideration of all the available evidence.

"That can include supporting medical evidence from the claimant's GP or other healthcare professional," said the spokesperson.

"GPs have been clear that they do not want to be responsible for making decisions on people's benefit entitlement, which is why we have processes in place to request the appropriate information from GPs to enable us to make those decisions." :zippit:

The Local Medical Committee Conference has passed a number of motions about the situation and informing GPs elsewhere that they do not have to write the letters.

But the LMC in North Wales, for example, does not instruct GPs against writing letters in support of patient appeals.

Words simply fail me :ill:
 

Firestormm

Senior Member
Messages
5,055
Location
Cornwall England
The DWP asked my GP for his opinion, and I swear he had me confused with someone else. His short reply to them - as I later learned in court - said something about me not exhibiting signs of a shortness of breath. What the heck that had to do with my condition/disablement the gods alone know.

Fortunately, my testimony and additional evidence in court overturned that decision. But it did demonstrate to me the need to be able to interact with a GP and better ensure he knows what is required and that he remembers who you are :)

Of course the main concern I have is that the DWP do not routinely ask all GPs or Consultants for information. They seem to pick and choose. And the patient does not know when the request has been made or what the reply was.

As a patient we are asked to 'provide evidence' by the DWP. Well who is the one person that the vast majority of patients will turn to? THEIR GP! And patients are being charged for this 'privilege' in some instances. That too is a disgrace and should be stomped out or the same system should apply to everyone after proper consultation.

Postcode friggin' lotteries rule in this capitalist 'democracy' [wheres the emoticon for spitting?] :)
 

alex3619

Senior Member
Messages
13,810
Location
Logan, Queensland, Australia
Thanks for this Firestormm. Its related to other matters I have looked at and is likely to be in my book. Its like they want to deliberately construct a catch-22 situation: damned one way, damned the other, too bad. They don't seem to get that there are consequences. When you deny benefits to sick and disabled then other costs go up - some where, some how, some way.
 

Firestormm

Senior Member
Messages
5,055
Location
Cornwall England
I smell politics here alex3619 and simple economics too I am afraid.

1) the doctors union and doctors generally were against being asked to get involved in benefit assessments and the 'new' system; but the Govt. told them to stuff it - and why should the Govt. care anyway - do what you are told and if you don't we don't mind if claimants lose out because it means less in the benefit bill.

2) There is a definite cost to doctors surgeries and this 'burden' has certainly increased. If claimants are being asked for more evidence every six months or even every year - then this is considerable. People living longer - more chronic conditions even for those in work but disabled - claims will grow regardless of whether this results in upheld decisions. But nobody seems to be planning for this. Once upon a time what the doctor said went.

Now it's all 'wellness notes' and 'evidence' and more time and effort and less incentive. My OT was telling me the other week that she has 2 letters on average each week to write to support someone with ME seeking to remain or claim benefit. Now that is not really in her job description I don't believe - but without her support the 'client' would stand less of a chance.

Personally, I think the DWP are wanting to move away from claimants who see only a GP to claimants who are under the care of a consultant or some specialist service. I think the way the Work Capability Questionnaire is structured and the questions it asks - it geared towards hospital i.e. 'more serious'.

I don't think it will be enough to 'simply' be under the care of 'only' a GP. But that just my ruminations. The only way I am on benefits is because - in court - I was able to represent myself and they could see and hear how I am. Really I had very little in the way of 'evidence' - who the hell does?

It is remarkable stressful not to mention draining and exhausting, having to attend court for something like this: it should all really come out at the medical assessment - but they are only trying to follow the 'tick box' system. They do not listen or ask the right questions.

Whole system is ****** in my humble opine - but there are signs it might improve... Enough. Need a rest :)
 

alex3619

Senior Member
Messages
13,810
Location
Logan, Queensland, Australia
Politics and economics are indeed involved in my opinion. I am having to research both, but neither is my area. BPS, political trends, economic trends, are all part of a larger picture which I may outline in my book, but I can never do justice to. The scope of the problem is big, but we focus on our little bit, which is what we see day to day.