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GPC calls for disability assessment forms to be automated

The GPC is pushing for the forms used to help assess patients for the Government’s new disability benefit to be automatically populated from patient records, to save GPs time.

The move would mean that the forms for patients claiming the new personal independence payments (PIP) - which replaced the old disability living allowance payment earlier this month - would be automatically filled out from medical records, and then checked by the GP.

Currently the forms have to be filled in manually, with details of the diagnosis, history, variability, treatment and the impact of the condition on the patients’ life. GPs are paid £33.50 per report completed.

But Dr John Canning, chair of the GPC’s professional fees and regulation committee and a GP in Middleborough, said computer systems already had the functionality to fill in parts of the PIP report - such as the main diagnosis - to save GPs time.

He said: ‘I’d like to get to the point of saving GPs time with the use of IT. You can extract the info on an IT system. It can look for the relevant principal diagnosis and other information and automatically update the form.

‘GPs should still get the £33.50 for the form because the information still has to be checked and verified. The GP systems already have the functionality to produce template reports so it makes sense. This is a desire we’ve expressed to the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP).’

A DWP spokesperson said they are not currently working to make this proposal a reality, but it may be possible to take forward the idea at a later date: ‘This is not being actively pursued as PIP begins to be rolled out.

‘However the process will remain under review and we are keen to minimise any burdens on GPs. It may be possible to take forward such a suggestion at a future date.’