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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.