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GPs have a duty to complete the incapacity benefit forms

Before Dr Jason Twinn decides to relegate the IB113 medical report form to the bottom of his in-tray (Pulse Choices, April 14) he might want to bear in mind the following points.

The factual information requested by the Department for Work and Pension (DWP) doctor via the IB113 form is actually important to a patient who is claiming a state incapacity benefit. Often the patient will have a severe condition and the information will help the DWP doctor to ensure they are sensitively assessed. Where the patient's condition does not preclude a return to some form of employment the DWP and JobcentrePlus will help to support their steps back to work.

The effects of long-term unemployment on patients' health and well-being are well known. For patients of working age who have an illness or disability, supporting their rehabilitation is an important and integral part of clinical care. GPs can help by supplying timely factual information that will enable the DWP to provide the most appropriate rehabilitation support to the patient.

Dr Twinn implies that where an item-of-service fee is paid to the GP, a report form should be given greater priority.

A more appropriate approach to prioritising paperwork may be to consider the consequences for the patient, and that patient's health and well-being, of not completing the form. In fact NHS GPs are paid to complete the IB113 form as part of their core clinical services and it is also a terms-of-service requirement that they do so within the timescale requested by the DWP medical officer.

Further details about why completing the IB113 form is important to your patient can be found in the IB204 guide available at www.dwp.gov.uk/medical.

Professor Mansel Aylward

Chief medical adviser

Department for Work and Pensions

London WC2

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