Trouble getting a fit note or medical support information for ESA? False Economy wants to hear from you

Have you had trouble getting a fit note, or medical support information for ESA claims or appeal?

Recently, we’ve been approached by people on ESA and welfare rights advisors who have struggled to get fit notes while appealing Atos fit-for-work decisions.

We’ve also seen statements from people who say that their GPs can’t supply documents of support.

For example:

For several months now, we’ve been in regular contact with Steve, a man in Newcastle who was diagnosed with schizophrenia more than 30 years ago.

He struggles with serious depression and has suicidal thoughts. He told us in an interview earlier this year that his mental health was getting worse and that he was struggling to find help as local services were cut and swamped.

“I do hallucinate [especially at night]…I see things like giant squid and things like that…I think I’m being eaten alive…. the drugs, the Sulpiride I take, it’s got quite bad side effects in that my limbs shake every night when I go to bed and keep me up half the night anyway. [But] The community mental health team is overwhelmed…(The full interview with Steve is here).

Fit for work

Steve was recently found fit for work by Atos – he was given no points in his work capability test and told to apply for jobseekers’ allowance.

He decided to appeal that decision. He needed to get a sick note (now called a fit note) from his doctor, though – a note which essentially signs him off fitness for work while he is waiting for his appeal to be heard.

Unfortunately, a receptionist at Steve’s GP surgery rang him to say that the surgery would not issue a fit note, because Atos had found him fit for work. He wrote us this email in horror:

“This is an email to confirm that a receptionist at my GPs’ surgery phoned me to say that the doctor had refused to sign any more ESA sicknotes as the DWP, on the basis of an Atos report, had found me fit for work.

“I was claiming I needed a sicknote on the basis of a chronic psychotic illness – namely schizophrenia, which other GPs were happy to sign before the Atos report.

“I have not yet seen the disability forum or the local jobcentre on this issue yet as I’m still reeling from the fact that I’ll get no more benefit after today. Please help!”

Fortunately, an advisor from a mental health support group in Newcastle sorted the problem out – contact was made with Steve’s GP surgery and a doctor there agreed to write the fit note which leaves Steve eligible for some ESA payment, while he waits for his appeal to be heard.

Have you been denied a fit note, or medical support information for your ESA claim or appeal?

We want to follow this up. Let us know in the comments if that has happened to you, or contact us here: if you would rather email.


  • jeffery davies October 4, 2012 at 7:41 pm

    i thought the doctors union come out against the wac but now looks like they supporting atos its getting to be who do we trust jeff3

  • David Haymes October 4, 2012 at 11:30 pm

    When I failed my first ATOS assessment back in 2009 I appealed (and eventually won), but I had this problem at my local GP surgery. I saw a GP who told me that they had received a letter from the DWP telling them not to provide any further sick notes as I had been found ‘fit for work.’ Fortunately, I knew how to complain to the Practice Manager and directed her to the medical professionals section of the DWP website, where information was given about people appealing being entitled to ask for sick notes. The GP subsequently apologised, but she also pointed out that the DWP’s advice on the website was ambiguous and that they had problems getting clear information from the DWP.

  • jed goodright October 5, 2012 at 12:55 pm

    the system is in chaos. I recently changed surgeries because the admin staff were intolerable and supported by the senior gps left me with no service at all. despite reporting it and contacting the PCT it was suggested I had to remain with the surgery. No fucking way. They claim relationship should be about trust – but how do you trust anyone who treats you like a moron, denies your own experience and argues they are always right????

    I was in a local store and chatted with the owner, he was affable, helpful, funny and generous. I called in another local store to have a lot of banter about a range of subjects. I telephoned my local social care team ( the ones here to help) and they were officious, rude, talked to me as if I had no right to question them, and genearlly appalling in attitude and comment.

    the system stinks but I don’t care how much professionals may be under pressure their behaviour is arrogant, inhuman and totally fucking unacceptable.

  • Humanity2012 October 5, 2012 at 5:06 pm

    Things leave a LOT to be DESIRED

    We Need a Better System and Improvement 150 Percent in the Standard of
    Public Service

    The Country is a Stinking Mess and Needs Sorting Out

  • Gary October 7, 2012 at 3:28 pm

    I’ve been denied medical support information. 25 years of seeing psychiatrists and psychologists compacted down to a four line statement from my doctor. My tribunal coming up. I have got zero hope of winning without an advocate to back me up.

  • jamesd October 7, 2012 at 8:35 pm

    Reference Davis Hayes post Fortunately, I knew how to complain to the Practice Manager and directed her to the medical professionals section of the DWP website, where information was given about people appealing being entitled to ask for sick notes.

    Here are the relevant DWP links

    (click on GP’s- computer-completed fit note fact sheet)

  • Annos February 16, 2013 at 2:42 pm

    “Incapacity Benefit” is NOT a benefit, it is an insurance payout, a person paid national insurance (insurance premiums) over many years to cover for such an event as becoming too ill to work. How did the word “Benefit” become associated with a persons Incapacity payment!!!. I think the FSA should look into this matter, it is also (to me) a clear case of false representation by successive governments, as I was NEVER at any point told I would have to undergo a WCA if I ever came to claim my insurance payout, if I had been I could have made private arrangements to cover myself in the unfortunated event of becoming too ill to work, too late to do that now!!!.

  • You must be logged in to comment. Log in
%d bloggers like this: