Will GPs betray the Sick and Disabled too??

Yesterday, BBC Wales reported that GPs in South East Wales have been instructed not to write letters to support their patient’s benefit appeals. The Bro Taf local medical committee, representing GPs, says “writing letters stops doctors seeing ill patients” amounting to an “Abuse of resources”

It clearly escaped them that these patients are ill enough to be making a claim for out of work subsistence benefits and therefore likely to be some of the most unwell people attending their surgeries.

However, more importantly, DWP ministers have blamed the staggering 43% ESA (Employment and Support Allowance) appeal rate on claimants not requesting and submitting enough medical evidence. As Mark Hoban claimed,

What’s happening too often is people are suggesting to claimants ‘oh, just leave the medical evidence until the appeal’ – there’s a shared responsibility here.”

In theory, within the claim process, Atos is expected to request evidence from a claimant’s doctor when the claimant is likely to be placed in the Suport Group. For the year up to October 2012, Atos only requested such evidence (as an ESA113 form) in 27.2% of all ESA referrals; 23.8% of these were not returned by GPs.

Sadly, the House of Commons overturned a recommendation by the House of Lords that supporting evidence be sought in all ESA cases.

Claimants already overwhelming feel that the medical evidence they do submit is ignored by Atos assessors and DWP decision makers and 40% of cases that do go to appeal are overturned.

If GPs withdraw their support in this way, the claimant is entirely at the mercy of a tick-box computer based questionnaire, carried out by someone who does not have to be a doctor and who need have no knowledge at all of their condition or disability. This tick-box system has been shown to be inadequate and unfit for purpose by every major study. Both the BMA (British Medical Association) and the RCGPs (Royal College of GPs) have called for the assessment (WCA) to be withdrawn with immediate effect.

The opinion of a GP who knows the claimant well is often the only lifeline left to many facing this bleak, impersonal “assessment”, If they refuse to help, they will be abandoning millions to a broken system.

It simply must not happen.

**Update. This comment was left on The Void and since, Bro Taf have said they will be issuing a statement later today. Hopefully, this measure will not be maintained : 

Karin : “I have rung and had a long discussion with someone from the Bro Taf LMC re. this letter. I was angry but polite and she heard me out and understood where I was coming from. ( I have won Appeals recently after going through sheer hell and poverty for 18 months waiting for Tribunals).
She told me the letter is going to be withdrawn. She also accepted that the wording was too strong and a symptom of frustration (more later) and not a reflection of the LMC on patients at all.
The letter is advice only and no GP can be forced to act upon it as practices are independent and can do as they please.
She explained that the letter was generated out of terrible frustration that despite the LMCs telling the DWP time and time again that there needs to be a clear fair system and guidance for people who have to appeal, whereras now there is none, so naturally people go to their GPs. She went on to describe how many GP practices are almost at meltdown point due to inadequate funding and time spent by GPs having to write letter after letter and form after form often doing repeats , because the DWP haven’t told appellants that repetition won’t help.their case. I think I understood from our talk that Gps are funded to fill parts of forms from the DWP and anything else isn’t funded, however many GPs do do these extras
My understanding is that the DWP isn’t listening,to them or to claimants, MPs aren’t listening, pressure is peaking for us desperate claimants and building up in GPs.. Is this so that we fight eachother rather than uniting to effect the change that we desperately need? Of course it is us patients that suffer so terribly and waiting times to see GPs are growing.which certainly does not help.”
From Bor Taf “We will be issuing a formal statement later today and this will be sent to you.
Bro Taf LMC Ltd
Henstaff Court Business Centre
CF72 8NG
Tel: 02920899381


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