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GPs should not have to provide evidence for benefits claims, say MPs

Patients shouldn’t be ‘relying’ on GPs to supply supporting evidence for work capability assessments, a report by the House of Commons’ work and pensions committee has said.

The Employment and support allowance and work capability assessments report published on Wednesday said that Department of Work and Pensions ‘decision-makers’ should be responsible for gathering supporting evidence so patients don’t incur GP charges.

It also suggests GPs should receive additional training on ensuring supporting evidence is relevant to the claim, and addresses how a ‘condition affects a claimant’s functional capacity’.

In April, Pulse revealed that requests to provide supporting evidence for patients had reached ‘ridiculous’ levels, with doctors being asked to provide medical evidence for 305,533 cases - a third of all incapacity and employment benefit claims.

The committee’s report states: ‘We have heard evidence that [claimants] primarily seek this evidence from GPs, even though, as Mind pointed out, a claimant’s GP may not always have the best insight into the effect of the claimant’s condition on their functionality.’

It proposes a wholescale redesign of the Employment Support Allowance scheme and its ‘short-term’ recommendations include the DWP ‘proactively seeking [supporting evidence], rather than leaving this to claimants, who often have to pay for GPs to provide it’.

‘Where evidence is identified as necessary, it should be sought from the most appropriate health and other professionals, such as social workers, and occupational therapists, rather than relying on GPs,’ the report says.

Readers' comments (4)

  • GPs are not Occupational Health Doctors-not trained and NOT paid.....Period.

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  • Vinci Ho

    Wait a minute , not 'relying' on GPs and GPs may not always have the best insight, does not mean we are going to be removed from the equation . Other professionals will be involved but how are they going to be involved? GPs had to refer to them and get additional reports???? Of course, we will receive 'special' training to 'help' DWP.
    Sorry , no trust on IDS and his department .

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  • Patient charges deter the pointless " can I have a letter doc" brigade which in the area I work is a significant number. If I did these reports I wouldn't have time to see patients! Now the dwp will "seek" relevant information from the GPs. Will they pay? Will they pay the market rates? I doubt it but I'm sure it will be made statutory for the benefit of the poor patients. I would much rather not do any reports. The whole business needs to be taken out of our hands. It is time consuming and a drain on face to face clinical resources. We should not have to provide sick notes period. The employer should be responsible for assessing fitness to do the usual occupation. We are not occy health doctors. If the dwp or employers need information to reach a decision, they should with the patients consent have access to the clinic records and with the current IT systems sharing this is a doddle. Would free up GP time to deal with Real clinical problems. But unfortunately common sense is not how this country works!

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  • GPs should not have Anything to do whatsoever with sick notes! The number of 'chancers' you see in GP is astounding, and saying 'no' can then clearly conflict with the doctor-patient relationship. If Stephen Hawkins does not claim benefits I see no reason why the vast majority of the patients in my practice who are on the 'sick' should be on it

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