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Independents' Day

GPs to be paid £33 per patient to assess eligibility for new disability benefit

GPs will be paid to fill out a new form determining whether patients are eligible for the Government’s new personal independence payment (PIP), a scheme the GPC has warned may ‘harass’ patients with a health condition or disability.

The PIP replaced the disability living allowance this week and GPs will be required to give details of the diagnosis, history, variability, treatment and the impact of the condition on the patients’ life, for which they will be paid £33.50 per form.

But the GPC has voiced concern that patients with long term conditions might be periodically ‘harrassed’ under the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) under the new PIP assessment.

To qualify for the payment, patients must have needed help for three months or more and be likely to need help for the next nine months.

A form detailing the claimants own description of how their condition or disability impacts their life, as well as a factual report from a health professional such as a GP will be sent to assessors at ATOS or Capita. PIP assessors can then either order that a face-to-face consultation by a health professional be carried out, or make a recommendation to the DWP about the claimant’s eligibility without this.

The new PIP assessments, will be run by private contractors ATOS - who also run the Work Capability Assessment scheme.

Payments awarded under PIP, will be reviewed ‘at appropriate intervals depending on how likely it is for the claimant’s condition or impairment to change’, the DWP said.

But Dr John Canning, chair of the GPC’s Professional Fees and Regulation committee and a GP in Middlesbrough voiced concern about patients having to continually ‘prove’ they deserve state support.

He said: ‘We don’t want to see people harassed when they have long term chronic illness. Some people are never going to improve. They have a long term illness and they don’t need to be harassed by the system every month to keep proving they can’t do certain things.’

He added: ‘If they target people who really need it then it may be a good thing. But we know that there are plenty of people who don’t claim when they should do, and need a great deal of persuading to claim. All we hear about is the people who claim when they shouldn’t be.’

The DWP said they introduced the new system as the former Disability Living Allowance system was flawed, with patients receiving benefits for life with no systematic assessment of the impact the condition or disability had on their daily life.

A DWP spokesperson said: ‘The Personal Independence Payment will include a new face-to-face assessment and regular reviews - something missing in the current system. This will ensure the billions we spend on the benefit gives more targeted support to those who need it most.’

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Readers' comments (29)

  • I can see there being very unhappy patients if the GPs report means that they lose their benefits. I can also see those unhappy patients wanting to speak to their GP about the report!

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  • I agree a better system has to be in place to ensure appopriate person recieves benefit. A friend of my partner's just "bought" a new home - they've never worked in their life, they are morbidly over weight, has several children for which the tax payers pays the bill, and has now accumulated enough money from benefits to buy a home.

    However, a GP filling the form isn't a good solution. We, are advocates to our patients and cannot be placed in a position where we are either going to cause disadvantage to them or be economical with the truth. Neither is untebable. If they are serious about it, they should appoint an independant doctor to scrutinize the record. But they wont........ because all this is just a gesture to show they are doing something, rather than a serious attempt.

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  • Vinci Ho

    I think we are looking forward to see how 'righteous' the new PIP system will become ..........

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  • The government needs to remove the entire responsibility from GPs of issuing sick notes and filling in incapacity forms etc as it throws a real spanner in the doctor-patient relationship often setting us up in confrontation with our punters.Furthermore we're not occupational health doctors and are being pushed to do the government's dirty work.Hire someone else!

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  • As someone who does claim disability benefits can I just stress the emotional effects the welfare changes and the rhetoric of the press is having on us. There is only 0.5% fraud in DLA claims, and that is the DWPs own figures. The humiliation of an assessment cannot be put into words. The proven failure of the work capability assessments and the success at appeals is indicative of the governments ideological aims. A person I dealt with had Parkinson's, osteoarthritis and diabetes and still had to go to tribunal, she was in a shelter home by that time as her condition had worsened. The 20 meter rule aims to get 600 000 people off benefits, the governments own figures. Please do not buy the rhetoric but support the person in an extremely stressful situation.

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  • @Michelle 12 April 2013 3:36pm

    Most patients i see have symptoms totally out of proportion to objective signs.Should they be enititled to state handouts?I think not otherwise you can easily play the system.There should be an approved list of medical conditions for which benefits are given.If you don't have it you don't get it.To any sane mind severe Parkinson's should obviously entitle one for state help (assuming the country can afford it)

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  • I wonder though how many actual ATOS assessors will take any notice of the GP even if he or she does fill the form in. I know my GP would do what he could to help but it seems unfair to put GPs in the position whereby they could be seen as 'snitching' on their patient. There is a trust and a certain amount of confidentiality between GP and patient and I am honestly not sure that this should be laid at their door. I have Acute Myeloid Leukaemia currently in remission and I also now have DVT. My doctor can only go by the times he sees me and he doesn't really see me for either of those conditions, the Royal Marsden sees me for the cancer and the loca hospital administers and looks after the blood clot.,

    I think that if the DWP only used the brains that they were born with, they would realise that they should have a board of impartial doctors whose expertise covers a number of known condition and that reference should be made to genuine medical documents backing up the patient's claim. Surely with all the money they are paying ATOS, they could set something like that up? Or am I being disingenuous?

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  • Thanks, Peter, for the info it’s starting to look like part 2 of IB/TO ESA assessments all over again, they haven’t learnt anything.
    BTW, I cannot download the new form GPs form either.

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  • i dont know how anyone can buy a house while on benefits ,for one you have to declare all savings to dwp and any savings over a certain amount means a reduction by % of the benefit and two they would have to be in work to get a mortgage

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  • and for dwp making reference to all genuine medical records ...this is already the case for DLA/PIP

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